Lismore candidate seeks truth about water extraction
THE battle over water security just got bigger, as the Nationals candidate for Lismore, Austin Curtin, calls for an independent investigation into water extraction on the Northern Rivers.
After meeting with concerned Tweed residents in Murwillumbah, including Tweed Water Alliance members, Mr Curtin has requested the NSW Government and Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair launch an independent investigation to assess the potential impact water extraction operations are having on the water table.
Mr Curtin said the government needed to investigate whether water extraction practices would have a "future long-term impact on agriculture".
"Water security is an issue facing communities across the country and the public has the right to know what effect industry is having on this important resource," Mr Curtin said.
"I want NSW chief scientist Hugh Durrant-Whyte to investigate whether the water able to be extracted through groundwater licences on the Northern Rivers is sustainable, and the viability of the bottled water sector in our region.
"Both government and the community need to be presented the hard facts."
Mr Curtin has written to Member for Lismore Thomas George, who will not be contesting the seat he has held for 20 years, and asked he take the request to Minister Blair.
"It is not the role of government to stop businesses which are legal and operating within their licensing arrangements," Mr Curtin said.
"If any investigation finds issues with current water licences, then the government and council must take steps to ensure the sector is sustainably managed into the future."
This support from a major political party follows ongoing community outrage over several applications to extract water for commercial purposes across the shire.
Tweed Shire Council has been battling applicants in the Land and Environment Court over whether they should be allowed to proceed with their commercial operations.
While former NSW Labor minister Jack Hallam recently received approval to start extracting 24 megalitres annually from his Uki property last month, an application lodged to use 19m water trucks by the Karlos family, who have operated a water extraction business on their Urliup property since 2003, was recently rejected by the LEC.