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Clarence Valley News

Villagers hit boiling point over water alert



Staff at the Golden Dog show how unfit to drink the water is coming from the taps in the town, which has been placed on a boil water alert by Clarence Valley Council - Glenreagh

Villagers hit boiling point over water alert


By Tim Howard

Residents of a village near Grafton, warned to boil their town water because of a filtration failure, said the Clarence Valley Council has neglected them.

The co-ownersof the Golden Dog, at Glenreagh, Stephanie Luck, said council, which supplies the water, had been tardy informing businesses and locals of the alert, which came into force on October 11.

Ms Luck, said the said when the boil water alert had first been made there had been no information about how long it might be in place, which was damaging for her business.

“It came on a Friday morning, I wanted to know when it might be fixed,” she said.

“I couldn’t pour soft drinks through the post mix system and if it wasn’t going to be fixed, I need to get to town to buy enough soft drinks for the weekend.”

Ms Luck said she had contact all councillors and staff via email, but only one person from the council had shown any interest.

“(Cr) Debrah Novak was the only one at council who got back to me,” she said. “The town feels like the council has neglected us.”

She  said no-one at the council could say how long the people needed to boil water from the tap.

A council press release said council had been forced with switch supply from the Nymboida River to Shannon Creek Dam because of reduced river flows.

The release said initial attempts to resolve the turbidity levels at the Glenreagh Water Treatment Plant had been unsuccessful, and council was pursuing replacement filtration system options.

“We are currently doing every thing we can to alleviate the situation as fast as possible and should have a clearer timeline by next week of when it will be resolved,” council manager water and sewer operations Andrew Potter said.

“Council hired a temporary filtration unit for Glenreagh in February 2023.

“While it has been effective in reducing turbidity, it has failed to return drinking water quality to the required level since we started drawing water from Shannon Creek Dam due to low flow conditions of the Nymboida River.”

But residents said the council has not realised how serious the effects of the problem will be.

Ms Luck said the boil water alert was bad news for their business.

“On top of the additional costs of buying in soft drink, our customers numbers are down,” she said.

“People see there’s a boil water alert at Glenreagh and don’t come to the town or stop if they’re travelling through.

Staff at the Golden Dog show how unfit to drink the water is coming from the taps in the town, which has been placed on a boil water alert by Clarence Valley Council - Glenreagh

Staff at the Golden Dog show how unfit to drink the water is coming from the taps in the town, which has been placed on a boil water alert by Clarence Valley Council

Being unable to free access tap water was created issues in the kitchen.

“When we cook rice or pasta we run it under cold tap water to stop it cooking,” she said.

“We can’t do that now. And Responsible Services of Alcohol legislation requires us to provide free water to patrons.

“Boiling water before we can do that, rather than through our post mix taps, is an extra cost.

“We have 20 people on staff here we have to look after and this going on for three or four more weeks is so frustrating.

“I haven’t been game enough to do the sums yet, but my guess it will cost us at least $5000.”

Glenreagh resident and kidney transplant recipient Tegan Grey said problems with water supply could have a big impact on her health.

“We have lived here for nearly two years and have had this happen a few times,” she said.

“It’s frustrating and I am pregnant and have also have had a kidney transplant, which makes me very ill if I get any bugs in my system.

“It’s pretty hard to boil and cool down a jug for drinking water all the time as we go through a bit so we are buying.

“I also have a 10-year-old and two-year-old the 10 year old goes to Glenreagh Public School where they have not been provided with any water other then donations of some thoughtful people which is great.”

But Ms Grey did not have a kind word for the council.

“Not much can be said about our council and how they have not helped or informed us of anything and why so long,” she said.

“Three to four weeks after already a week? That’s seems long or are we not a priority?”

Ms Luck said the council should have been aware of the water quality problems ahead of time.

“When the water comes from the Nymboida it’s crystal clear, but they know when they switch to Shannon Creek Dam water there’s a problem,” she said.

“It’s happened before, but it appears the council thinks Glenreagh is the a___e end of their area.

“They’re saying we just have to put up with whatever they’re doing or not doing.”

Social media was also buzzing with complaints about the quality of the water supply.

The council said it collected daily water samples for laboratory analysis with no detection of E. coli.

Ultra violet and chlorine disinfection treatment units continue to function to the required standards.

The council has issued the following advice for residents:

  • Water used for drinking or food preparation should be brought to a rolling boil to make it safe. Kettles with automatic shut off switches can do this. Water should then be allowed to cool and stored in a clean container with a lid and refrigerated.
  • Everyone, particularly people caring for young children, should be careful to avoid scalding, when you are heating and then cooling the water.
  • Bottled water or cool boiled water should be used for drinking, washing uncooked food (e.g. salad vegetables and fruit), making ice, cleaning teeth, gargling and pet’s drinking water.
  • Dishes should be washed in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher.
  • Children should take bottled water or cool boiled water to school/childcare.

The council said updates would appear on its website and Facebook page.


For more local Grafton news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News





Richie Williamson at the Evans Head boat harbour river dredging



State Nationals MP for Clarence Richie Williamson has renewed calls in the NSW Parliament for the Minns Labor Government to implement a 10-year dredging strategy for the Clarence and Evans rivers, similar to plans the Government has put in place to dredge Swansea Channel in the Lake Macquarie region to improve navigation and provide improved access.

Mr Williamson recently moved a motion in the NSW Parliament calling on the Minns Labor Government to develop a long-term dredging plan for both the Clarence and Evans rivers systems.

“In river communities like ours, continual maintenance of rivers like the Clarence and Evans rivers is essential on many levels, including environmental, economic and recreational,” Mr Williamson said.

“These rivers are the lifeblood of communities that live along them, and it is evident that dredging is required to keep them in optimum health.

“The Yamba and Evans boat harbours are home to a commercial fishing fleet, a booming recreational fishing and boating enthusiasts and a significant maritime sector, including Marine Rescue. Hundreds and hundreds of jobs could be at risk if action isn’t taken.”

Mr Williamson said in addition, the continuing silting up of the river’s ecosystem increases the risk of flooding in terms of river height and flow rates.

“I will work with the NSW Government to get these very important projects underway, which will benefit the entire community,” Mr Williamson concluded.


For more Evans Head news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News





Clarence Way



Work is well underway to ensure the Northern Rivers region is better prepared to withstand future severe weather events, with physical works now starting this week to improve a stretch of Clarence Way.

The only road connecting north to south in this area, Clarence Way provides a vital thoroughfare between Woodenbong and Grafton in the south.

The project is being funded through more than $27 million from the Albanese and New South Wales Governments and Kyogle Council. This includes;

  • A $10 million grant from the joint Federal-State Regional Roads and Transport Recovery Package to ensure the road is rebuilt stronger and is better able to withstand future weather events.
  • A further $9.09 million jointly-funded will fix damage from recent floods.
  • The significant roads project is also boosted by a $4 million election funding commitment from the NSW Government, and;
  • $4.26 million from Kyogle Council.

Kyogle Council will lead the rebuild of the road, which is severely potholed with many other pavement failures along this 22-kilometre stretch, as well as sections south of Sandilands and between Bonalbo and Urbenville.

Quotes attributable to Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt:

“All three levels of Government have been working really hard behind the scenes to get this, and many other Northern Rivers projects to the point where they’re ready to start physical works, so it’s very exciting to see it hit this milestone.

“The Albanese Government is committed to building back better from natural disasters.

“When we make key roads like this one better able to withstand severe weather conditions, we improve evacuation and recovery efforts for communities right across the region.”

Quotes attributable to NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister, Jenny Aitchison:

“The NSW Government is pleased to deliver its election commitment for Clarence Way.

“This additional $4 million in addition to the $5 million contributed to the RRTRP by the State Government will not only repair the damage caused by the natural disaster but ensure the road is more reliable in the future and safer for local residents and visitors.

The NSW Government is committed to building back better. We know for every $1 spent on resilience, we save $10 in disasters.”

Quotes attributable to NSW Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib:

“This is another example of all levels of Government coming together and getting on with recovery in the Northern Rivers.

“It is also important that we take these opportunities to build back better and this investment in Clarence Way will help ensure it will better withstand future weather events.

“It is great to see this project getting underway, showcasing how the NSW Reconstruction Authority can help coordinate across three levels of government to make priority improvements which will help boost resilience and assist communities recover from disasters.”

Quotes attributable to NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery and State Member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin:

“I’m proud to be delivering on one of my key election commitments to Kyogle Council –$4 million towards improving flood immunity of the Clarence Way at Tunglebung and Culmarran creeks between Sandilands and Bonalbo.

“This commitment is an integral part of a more significant betterment project for this section of the Clarence Way under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements and is a win for local residents who campaigned for safety improvements and for all motorists who use the road.

“I worked closely with locals, including Kyogle councillors and staff to ensure that the community campaign to upgrade Clarence Way got real traction.”

Quotes attributable to Kyogle Council Mayor Cr Kylie Webster:

“We thank the Australian and NSW Governments for providing the betterment funding to make the Clarence Way more flood resilient.

“The Clarence Way is a vital transport link for residents in the west of our local government area.

“It was badly impacted in the 2022 floods and the RRTRP funding will allow Council to build it back better, ensuring residents of Bonalbo, Old Bonalbo and beyond have a safer, more reliable road including during times of heavy rainfall events.”

For more information on the Regional Roads and Transport Recovery Package, visit here.


For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Flood plain DA refusal “historic” and “monumental”




Flood plain DA refusal

Flood plain DA refusal “historic” and “monumental”


By Tim Howard

A planning panel decision to refuse a controversial DA for 284-lot development in West Yamba is “historic” and “monumental”, according to opponents of the plan.

Last Tuesday The Northern Region Planning Panel met last week to consider a DA for the development at 52-54 Miles St, Yamba. On Monday the panel determined with a 3-1 vote in favour of refusal.

The development, with an estimated value in excess of $46 million, has been controversial from the start.

It was withdrawn once because of a large number of non-compliances and was the subject of 330 submissions from the public, with all but two opposing the development.

Adding to the controversy was a resolution made at the last Clarence Valley Council meeting recommending the panel refuse the development, going against a council staff assessment recommending approval.

At the NRPP meeting last week 12 residents made submissions opposing the development.

The determination to refuse cited section 4.16 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

It gave four reasons for refusal:

  1. The proposed development relies upon significant additional filling of the subject site. There is some discrepancy between the assessment report and the submitted application documents in relation to the intended minimum finished surface levels. Insufficient information was evident as to the quantity of additional (not yet approved) fill material, an approved source for this and the required method of transport to the site. Accordingly, the Panel could not be satisfied as to the environmental and amenity impacts of this required filling activity as part of the project, having regard to the provisions of cls. 5.21(2)(e) and 7.2 of the Clarence Valley LEP 2011 and s.4.15(1)(b) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
  2. The site is in a high-risk flood catchment, where flood planning is in transition. The proposed residential subdivision would necessitate evacuation in major flood events and is not intended to provide a flood refuge for residents who may otherwise be isolated for significant periods of time. Some of these are likely to be vulnerable persons.
    Mindful of the need to apply a precautionary, risk-based approach to the determination of development applications in flood-affected locations, the Panel did not have evidence that there would be adequate capacity or facilities for additional evacuees in safe evacuation centres. Nor did the SES email response to the proposal provided to the Panel address this issue or its capacity to support an evacuation of this subdivision, only noting that the warning triggers for evacuation in the applicants’ Flood Evacuation Plan were consistent with those in the local Flood Emergency sub-Plan. Accordingly, the Panel was not sufficiently satisfied in relation to safe evacuation measures for the purposes of cls. 5.21 of the Clarence Valley LEP 2011 and having regard to s.4.15(1)(b), (c) and (e) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
  3. Having regard to s.4.15(1)(d)of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the Panel has also noted the level of community concern and anxiety about flooding issues and associated insurance costs, the complexities of riverine and stormwater flood impacts, as well as problems experienced with flood warning, evacuation and potential resident isolation in Yamba.
  4. ThePanel was not satisfied that an adequate Acid Sulphate Soils Management Plan for the development had been supplied to the Council, as required under cls. 7.1(3) of the Clarence Valley LEP 2011, noting that Council had required such a Plan to be submitted as a condition of any consent.

Accordingly, the panel was not satisfied that the granting of consent would be in the public interest, having regard to s.4.15(1)(e) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

One member, Penny Holloway, support approval of the development.

Ironically the decision came soon after one of the development’s major opponents, the Yamba Community Action Network, gave evidence to the NSW Parliament Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment.

YambaCAN secretary Lynne Cairns and member Helen Tyas Tungal had been invited to Sydney too give evidence of planning irregularities around developments in West Yamba to the committee.

Ms Cairns said the news of the refusal came through just after they had given their evidence.

“It’s a monumental decision,” Ms Cairns said. “In a way it was a shame it didn’t come through before we spoke, but overall it’s just the best news we could have had.”

Ms Cairns and Ms Tyas Tungal had both made submissions to the NRPP panel meeting last week.

Another prominent opponent of the DA, Cr Greg Clancy, described the decision was historic and should set a precedent for to planning laws.

Cr Clancy, who successfully moved for council to oppose approval for the DA at the May meeting, said it was likely DA would go to the Land and Environment Court, where hopefully it would be refused again.

“It was a shame this decision was made before the result of the Portfolio committee investigation were made public,” he said.

“The planning minister, Pau Scully, needs to define his view on development on the floodplain, because he’s already stopped some developments down south.”

But he said whatever happened next, a precedent has been set.

“There will be now an expectation in the community that these sort of developments are not sustainable,” he said.

“So even though the planning staff felt this DA ticked all the boxes there was something in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act that were factors other than just box ticking that were important.

Cr Clancy said he believed these were a section of the Act, s.4.15(1)(d), which said there had to be due consideration given to the concerns of the public.

He pointed out there had been 328 submissions from the public against approval of the DA.

“It’s good to see these submissions have been taken seriously, because sometimes planners tended to overlook them.”

In its determination the panel noted the concerns raised in submissions to it.

It noted issues included:

  • Stormwater drainage
  • Flooding and Flood evacuation
  • Impacts associated with climate change
  • Urban Design
  • Impacts to biodiversity and natural environment
  • Filling of land
  • Infrastructure and services
  • Environmental impacts associated with dredging
  • Impact on town amenity

The Panel considers that concerns raised by the community have been adequately addressed in the Assessment Report and that no new issues requiring assessment were raised during the public meeting.


For more Yamba news, click here.

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