QUIET COUNCIL: Dam Water Pumping Halted

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A backflip from the Coffs Harbour City Council is a win for locals concerned about water in Woolgoolga Dam.

Last week, Councillor Sally Townley raised concerns that Coffs Harbour City Council had agreed to sell water from the Woolgoolga Dam to Costa Berries.

Triple M understands that Council’s water licence for that dam does not include the use for agriculture.

In a release to media on December 11, Coffs Harbour City Council’s Director Sustainable Infrastructure, Mick Raby, said that Woolgoolga Dam would be decommissioned and the sale of the water would save Council $200,000. He went on to say that the dam “is a water source for local wildlife and a long-term environmental benefit for the health of Woolgoolga Lake”.

Just one year ago the Coffs Harbour CIty Council were very vocal protesting the Coffs Bypass plans with bright yellow signs lining the Pacific Highway, however exactly one year on, the same Council were no where to be seen, when protesting were wanting them to answer questions about the release of the dam water.

On Monday, Triple M wrote to the Coffs Harbour City Council’s media unit, along with each of the Councillors and the Mayor asking for answers regarding the sale of water, environmental assessments for wildlife and habitat and dates for when the agreement to sell the water was made.

As of Thursday, the only responses have come from Councillor Keith Rhoades, Paul Amos and Sally Townley.

Both Councillor Rhoades and Amos said they had not been included in the decision making process, but were waiting for a briefing in the new year, while Councillor Sally Townley was concerned that she learnt of plans via a media release.

“I was alarmed to learn via a Council media release that there was a plan to sell 75% of the water in Woolgoolga Dam over a period of a few weeks, and then to decommission the dam”.

“I discussed this with Mr Raby. Despite the media release stating that the decommissioning decision had been made, Mr Raby has since confirmed that this is not the case, in fact the decision would come to Council in the new year”, Cr Townley said.

A spokesperson for the ‘Save Woolgoolga Dam’ group contacted Triple M on Thursday morning, saying that the Mayor, Councillor Denise Knight made contact with them to say that the plans for Costa to take water from the dam had been halted.

“She advised me that the pumping will not go ahead as council has now been advised that it contravenes the current water licence”, the spokesperson said.

Coffs Harbour City Council are due to discuss the matter further in the new year, meanwhile the latest debacle leaves questions over who will be left with the bill from Costa Berries’ investment in infrastructure such as piping and pumps to be able to collect the water.

26 December 2019

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