Dam plans put on hold

MOVES to fast-track planning for a new dam for Tweed Shire have hit a wall of red tape.

Planning work has been deferred while council officers spend 12 months or more preparing a detailed "total water management strategy" looking at options such as rainwater tanks, recycling and water-saving devices such as special showerheads.

But Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase has defended the delays saying the study is important so that opponents of a new dam would find it difficult to mount an argument against it.

Cr Polglase said yesterday new dams were "not the flavour of the month" and none had been built in NSW for about 20 years, meaning the Tweed could be on pioneering ground if it pushed ahead. Council has already acquired 90 percent of the proposed dam site and immediate catchment area at Byrrill Creek west of Mount Warning where it has entered into a timber-growing agreement with the NSW Department of Forestry.

Cr Polglase said few other councils were in the fortunate position of having a site for a new dam but an extensive process still had to be followed to justify a dam.

That's despite a push from councillors nearly two years ago to fast-track planning following falling levels in the Clarrie Hall Dam in 2002 and the imposition of water restrictions.

Cr Polglase said the study was likely to take more than 12 months looking at options such as water tanks and recycling.

But he said household tanks posed special difficulties because they would run dry in droughts and householders faced problems of where to put them, although it had been suggested they be installed beneath driveways.

He said homeowners would still face extra costs of electric pumps for the water which could only be used in the toilet, laundry and on the garden, but alternatives had to be considered in detail because a new dam was likely to cost $40-$50 million.

Yesterday the Clarrie Hall Dam was at 93 percent capacity, making water restrictions this summer unlikely.

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