Environmental group criticises plan to sell Bathurst's treated effluent

CONCERN: The Macquarie River would lose megalitres from the Bathurst Waste Water Treatment Plant under a proposed water sale to Regis Resources.

CONCERN: The Macquarie River would lose megalitres from the Bathurst Waste Water Treatment Plant under a proposed water sale to Regis Resources.

FORECASTS of a warming climate and drier weather patterns would make it “imprudent” to sell Bathurst’s treated effluent to a new mine to be established near Blayney, according to the region’s leading environmental group.

Regis Resources is seeking to buy eight to 10 megalitres of treated effluent a day to divert to the new gold mine at Kings Plains – equivalent to the daily output from the Bathurst Waste Water Treatment Plant back into the Macquarie River.

The deadline for submissions on Regis Resources’ proposal to buy Bathurst’s treated effluent passed at 5pm yesterday, though council has indicated it will accept late submissions until mid-January.

Bathurst Community Climate Action Network (BCCAN) lodged its 14-page submission late yesterday, arguing that uncertainty over a warming climate and the potential risks to Bathurst’s water security made the sale a bad idea.

The submission quoted forecasts from council’s own State Of The Environment report that predict local temperatures will rise by up to 1.8 degrees Celsius by 2030 and a growing population will place increased pressure on water resources.

“In light of these forecasts, it would seem imprudent to enter a long-term contract to sell our recycled water for the exclusive use of a single user outside the Macquarie River catchment,” the submission states.

“The loss of up to 10 megalitres a day out of our water system would reduce our options for the careful use of water in a warmer, drier region.”

BCCAN acknowledges the “short-term economic benefits” the sale would produce, but argues that supporting the Regis mine is not the region’s only path to economic prosperity.

“Bathurst is rich in other economic opportunities, particularly in terms of education, health and agriculture,” the submission states.

“This diverse economy makes Bathurst an attractive place to live and work, as shown by population growth of 1.56 per cent between June 2013 and June 2014 to 41,682 people.

“In the longer term, it could be argued that a decision to take water out of the catchment – in a drier, hotter region – could have negative economic impacts.”

BCCAN also posed 11 questions related to the proposal, including how much Regis would be charged for the water and why no environmental impact statement had been made available to councillors at this stage of the process.

Councillors are expected to vote on the water sell-off at council’s February meeting.

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