Tweed mayor’s water mining warning
TWEED Shire Mayor Katie Milne has warned residents of the potential environmental threat of 'water mining' in the region.
Her concerns follow a council resolution that could allow commercial water extraction and bottling at all rural land zoned RU2, including strategic and significant farmland.
Last week, councillors decided against Cr Milne's call to exclude strategic farmland from the plan, following a short debate.
Water extraction and bottling is mainly undertaken at the base of Mount Warning, which is considered a premium mineral-rich water source.
One company with approval from the NSW Office of Water to extract 57mega litres a year is seeking a road upgrade to allow commercial trucks to operate.
"That's more than a million litres a week that just one industry is allowed to take," Cr Milne said.
She said the most recent council motion came about after the Yaru Water brand asked to expand its operations.
"When it first came to council it came for the Mount Warning Spring Water, and they wanted to expand on their neighbouring plot and it was brought to us on 'can we allow these people to do this additional use?'," Cr Milne said.
"Those people were in a position where they wanted to increase their business. They were in a niche market, not Coca-Cola, so we said yes.
"The State Government then said we want you to rezone the whole shire to allow water bottling.
"We weren't at the time as councillors aware that was the situation and it went on exhibition, and when it came back I was shocked - all of a sudden something that we did for one lot was now going shire-wide."
Cr Milne said she was "vehemently" opposed to the move, alongside councillor Gary Bagnall.
"I have grave concerns over what I see as water mining," she said.
"I believe we're better to take the precautionary approach and do things in a more sustainable way."
The plan was referred to the NSW Government for final approval.