The recent drought has raised awareness everywhere of the need to use our water resources in a sustainable and responsible fashion. Groups along the entire north coast of NSW are highlighting present problems caused by developments being approved without the necessary infrastructure to support them through periods of critical water shortage. The present climatic situation is not considered to be such an extreme event that it is unlikely to be repeated in the future. We are seeking an appropriate response from planning authorities which provides sustainable long-term solutions to problems which will be exacerbated by increasing population pressures.
I can remember back in 2003 Mr Bruce Snape of Kempsey Shire Council revealed that Crescent Head's water supply was under great stress. He said that one bore in the Hat Head National Park was not working, one bore was sucking dry and the other was feeding to a dam with a leak in it. I understood then that another bore was being drilled and that the Dulconghi Heights Estate had been connected to town water and charged at a cheaper rate because their water would be cut off in drought time. If this isn't unsettling enough, a 2014 council commissioned report notes that the Sherwood Borefield "has been identified as being in high risk of over extraction" and a 2017 NSW Dept of Primary Industry's report states that if the Macleay Sands Aquifer was operating at 100 per cent of allocation there would be a clear risk of saltwater ingress.
I was surprised driving into Crescent recently to find a sign directing me to overflow parking and a notice that the town was under Level 3 water restrictions.
This seemed a shock for a village where the local amenity seemed to prioritised in all reviews of what the future would hold.
The proposed 150 lot subdivision at Killuke off the beginning of Plomer Road has been cut down a little in the E3 zoning where the plan showed the Asset Protection Zone approached too close to the Goolawah National Park border on Killuke Mountain but the rest of the blocks seem possible dual occupancy size and the roundabout at the western end of the proposed subdivision are probably not for the cows to get their morning exercise.
I also saw some quaint names on another subdivision at the beginning of the Maria River Road and rumours abound about money being shovelled down both ends of that road.
It is likely that all the new residents of the potentially dual occupancies and other subdivisions will not fancy walking to the shops. I can remember years ago at the ratepayers meeting a member of the TPA or Business Chamber came to our meeting to promise us 20 per cent of Port Macquarie's tourists if only we could get Maria River Road tarred.
With the development which will follow the tar down Plomer Road and the dramatic increase in tourism and Winnebagos and resorts I wonder what the water and parking position will be?
In the meantime council might do well to find out the extent of the water contained in the aquifer, the details of the recharge zone including its location, area or rate of recharge if it will replenish, the effect of the drawdown on groundwater dependent ecosystems in the NP or the potential for saltwater intrusion from the nearby ocean filling up the aquifer before any possible freshwater replacement and the impact of climate change and sea level rise and saltwater intrusion.