Co-ordinator of a special council team looking at future options for Tweed's water supply, Tim Mackney at the Clarrie Hall Dam wall.
Co-ordinator of a special council team looking at future options for Tweed's water supply, Tim Mackney at the Clarrie Hall Dam wall. Blainey Woodham

Raising wall a priority

A GROWING demand for water from Tweed's booming population has forced Tweed Shire Council to investigate raising the wall of Clarrie Hall Dam to increase its capacity.

The council has put the higher dam wall at the top of its list of preferred options for future water supply, followed by a new dam at Byrrill Creek west of Mt Warning and tapping into south-east Queensland water supplies.

It has shelved a controversial option - a new dam west of Murwillumbah on the Oxley River that would flood parts of Tyalgum.

That option was originally ranked in fifth position ahead of desalination and the “socially unacceptable” options of water re-use.

When the Oxley River proposal was last raised before the 2007 federal election by then Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Tyalgum residents and surrounding property owners were outraged.

The then opposition leader Kevin Rudd vowed to ditch the idea if elected.

The council's Community and Natural Resources director David Oxenham, in a report on various options, has told councillors the existing Tweed water supply providing 13,750 million litres a year can cater for a population of around 105,000.

“The current population of the shire is approximately 78,000,” he said.

“At current growth rates and current per capita water use the demand is forecast to exceed supply in the period 2017 to 2027.

“Thus the Water Supply System will require augmentation some time within that period.”

Mr Oxenham said an initial study had identified and ranked nine options.

Out of those he recommended a short list for further investigation which the councillors accepted.

The short listed options are:

  • Raising Clarrie Hall Dam;
  • A new dam on Byrrill Creek where the council has set aside land for the purpose;
  • A link to the south-east Queensland water grid.

Due to potentially long lead times with the short-listed options, a contingency option is to also be investigated.

It combines a link to Rous Water, which supplies Byron, Ballina and Lismore, a link to south-east Queensland and the use of groundwater supplies.

Mr Oxenham said out of the original list the option “with the most significant environmental concerns as well as social impact” was a new dam on the Oxley River, which would cause flooding to parts of the village and some rural properties.

The most expensive options costing between $200 and $300 million are desalination and re-use.

What do you think? Should the dam wall be raised? Have your say - leave a comment and vote in the poll.



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