No more questions: Key players tight-lipped on water supply
NEGOTIATIONS between Essential Energy and two North Coast councils over the future of regional water supply have continued, but we may have to wait some time for more information.
Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City councils recently met with the state-owned enterprise in an effort to progress talks over vital water infrastructure and water licences which they currently own.
However, all parties have refused to answer questions about the meeting and instead issued a joint statement which summarised the current lay of the land.
The issue has been bubbling away for years, ever since the Nymboida Power Station was damaged by flood in 2013 and Essential Energy signalled they wanted to divest the assets.
The issue has become a renewed cause for concern for some Clarence Valley Councillors in September following the release of some rather cryptic meeting minutes.
The minutes, from a meeting between Essential Energy and a consultant hired to represent both councils, raised questions about why the process to divest the assets was taking so long.
Councillors were also concerned about the prospect of a third party purchasing the assets and water licences, potentially bypassing a confidential agreement signed in 2008 which gave Clarence Valley Council first right of refusal.
Council are particularly keen to take control of the water licences as the Nymboida River is the source of both councils' water and gravity feeds to the Shannon Creek Dam.
Some of Coffs Harbour's supply comes from the Orara River.
Essential Energy, Clarence Valley Council and Coffs Harbour City Council's joint statement:
Essential Energy currently own Nymboida River Weir, Pipeline Assets and Water extraction Licences that supply the Nymboida Power Station when operational.
As part of Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour Councils Regional Water Supply scheme, the councils extract water from the Nymboida River by partly utilising the above Essential Energy assets and licences.
The generation of Power is not a core business for Essential Energy and they have advised councils as interested parties they wish to divest themselves of these assets and extraction licences.
To achieve a satisfactory outcome for all parties, representatives of Essential Energy, Clarence Valley Council and Coffs Harbour City Council recently met and agreed to work together to ensure that the interests of all parties are considered in arriving at a solution.