UPROAR: Residents protesting against water mining in Tweed last year.
UPROAR: Residents protesting against water mining in Tweed last year. Scott Powick

Company's contentious plan for Tweed water

A CONTROVERSIAL water extraction and bottling business in the Tweed plans to triple the amount of water it takes from bores each year.

Mount Warning Beverage Company wants to boost extraction from 50 megalitres to 150 megalitres.

It also plans to increase truck movements and expand operating hours.

The company, previously known as Mount Warning Spring Water, has submitted a development application to Tweed Shire Council.

Changes to the company's existing water bottling facility at 2574 Kyogle Road, Kunghur have been estimated to cost $200,000 and boost jobs.

The company expects it could employ 36 full-time positions when lines are in full production in 18 months to two years.

The company was previously fined by the council for using larger trucks and running more trips than allowed and the council has been pursuing water extraction volume figures from 2005-19.

The proposed loosening of the company's conditions prompted a scathing response from Tweed Water Alliance.

Spokesman Pat Miller referred to the science behind "water mining" as "dodgy" and said the development application has "more fabrications than an industrial estate".

"Talk about thumbing your nose at the community," he said.

Former Greens candidate for Tweed Bill Fenelon asked followers of his Facebook page to write to the council in opposition.

"Prevent a precedence being set and help save our precious environment," he said.

However, the company has stated any changes will "not impact on the existing character of the locality".

It also defended the development as environmentally sound and said it would "not have an adverse impact on natural water systems or the potential agricultural use of the land".

Further, company co-owner Tessa Martin said the new facility "will allow us to evolve from a small to a medium-size business, with a new glass-bottling line and a fully recyclable and recycled PET line".

"Traditionally our family have been cattle and dairy farmers. However, like many farmers, in order to survive and ensure the farm is viable, we have had to diversify.

"It may surprise many that we actually use far less water than when we were dairy farming. "This will continue to be the case."

She pointed to the NSW chief scientist's interim report on the impacts of extraction, which estimates the industry take from groundwater systems was less than two per cent of water entering systems each year.

Mrs Martin said the company was a strong supporter of The Fred Hollows Foundation and runs a not-for-profit foundation aimed at "closing the health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians".

The company's bid to ramp up operations comes after the council refused an application for a water extraction facility at 306 Dungay Creek Road, Dungay.

An appeal was lodged against the council's decision on February 25.



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