City of Coffs Harbour seeks government funding for drinking water risk assessment

Councillor Jonathan Cassell is concerned about drinking water quality in the long term. Photo: supplied.

CITY of Coffs Harbour will write to State and Federal water ministers seeking funding for a risk assessment of the impact of land use practices on water quality and quantity in the Coffs-Clarence catchment.

Greens councillor Jonathan Cassell tabled the Notice of Motion at Council’s 27 June meeting.

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The motion, which passed unanimously, initiates a dialogue between all tiers of government concerning the risks associated with land use practices in the Coffs-Clarence Regional Water Supply Scheme.

“The most pressing issue our water supply faces are what the unknown impacts of climate change will have on long term rainfall,” Cr Cassell said.

“Considering the City of Coffs Harbour has no information regarding land use impacts on water supply, it’s about time we found out what the risks are from a range of industries.”

Across the local water catchment, Cr Cassell suggests land use practices would likely include forestry operations, mining and land clearing.

“Political leadership is increasingly needed as science paints a bleak climate picture,” he said.

“Risks associated with extreme heat waves, megadroughts and catastrophic fires should not be underestimated as the climate becomes increasingly worse.

“Increasing human resilience, then, becomes a necessity.

“As a community, good planning helps bind our society together.”

Deputy Mayor Sally Townley thanked Cr Cassell for “continuing to bring this important issue before Council and the community.”

“While we are lucky to have good water infrastructure in our area, the water health is only as good as catchment health,” she said.

“With climate change predictions including more prolonged dry periods, it’s important to maximise water retention in our catchment systems.

“Land use in the catchments has a direct impact on the water cycle.

“Understanding the impacts is key to maintaining healthy water systems.

“The exploration of protected areas such as those used to safeguard the Sydney water catchment is a great proposition for Coffs.”

Cr Cassell says, if politicians and government officials fail to plan effectively for climate change, there is a chance that negative environmental change will happen without very much warning.

“The community can elect leaders who understand climate science and have the political will to deliver across all levels of government, but the community also has a responsibility to engage in the politics of climate change and hold elected leaders to account.”

Councillors resolved to publish return correspondence from State and Federal water ministers in a report, preferably before 22 August 2024.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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