Community concerns as water restrictions introduced in Coutts Crossing due to contamination

A logging and pesticide warning at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest. Photo: Mark Graham.

CONSERVATIONISTS have been warning for a while that current logging practices could lead to contamination of drinking water supplies.

With the Clarence Valley Council asking Coutts Crossing residents to boil their tap water and residents across the Clarence Valley being asked to restrict town water consumption in line with Level 4 (Severe) Water Restrictions to avoid an LGA-wide boil water alert, local conservationists say they have been vindicated.

MacKillop Family ServicesAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

The Council attributes contamination of the Nymboida River to ‘recent rain events’ and the bushfires.

Currently, its water storage is being supplemented by accessing a return flow from Karangi Dam in Coffs Harbour.

Mark Graham from the Dorrigo Koala Alliance said, “The Coffs Clarence Regional Water supply provides drinking water for all coastal municipal residents and for industries between Sawtell and Yamba.

This $200 million infrastructure is critically reliant upon water quality and baseflow from the forests of the Dorrigo Plateau across the Bobo, Little Nymboida, Little Murray, Nymboida and Blicks River catchments.”

Large swathes of public native forest and plantation have been clear-felled across this catchment area since the fires, including 68ha of native forest (much of it a nationally significant Koala hub) at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest that is disputed plantation, according to Mr Graham.

“The massive industrial logging done by Forestry Corporation has removed all vegetation cover from and destabilised entire landscapes across tens of square kilometres of the regional water supply catchment,” Mr Graham said.

“This has caused massive sediment contamination (and herbicide runoff) into the Nymboida and Blicks Rivers that are the main drainages providing for the regional water supply off-take into Shannon Creek.”

“The suggestion that recent sedimentation is due to the fires is simply not borne out by the on ground evidence.”

Mr Graham said this has been verified and validated by helicopter surveys and is visible from space.

A Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW) spokesperson said, “Protecting the health of waterways is a priority during forestry operations and more than four decades of monitoring data has consistently demonstrated that the water from State forests is among the best in the landscape.

“Forestry Corporation complies with strict environmental conditions and research, published by the University of New England, has demonstrated that these best practice measures effectively protect water quality.

“Operations are also independently regulated by the Environment Protection Authority to ensure compliance.”

The spokesperson said that the catchment for the Little Nymboida River includes agricultural land as well as State Forests and conservationists’ pictures appear to show surface runoff from roads, which is occurring across all land holdings at the moment as soils are saturated due to ongoing wet conditions associated with the La Nina weather pattern.

Ulong resident Mark Daniels is not entirely in agreement, having examined contamination from logging operations for several years.

He has noted that dirt roads above the Little Nymboida River have been very busy with logging trucks and has tracked sediment flows from the road down to the river.

Mr Daniels is not only concerned about drinking water, but also the danger posed by sediment, agricultural practices and residues from logging operations to local platypus, other animals and fish.

He said that he has raised issues with the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), with little success.

Mr Daniels, Mr Graham and many other Coffs Coast locals are wondering when their mounting evidence will be taken seriously.

By Andrew VIVIAN

Sediment runs from the road towards the Little Nymboida River. Photo: Mark Daniels.

Leave a Reply