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Pacific Highway upgrade threatens Emigrant Creek water catchment


Images are from report "Tintenbar to Ewingsdale - Upgrading the Pacific Highway" (PDF, 5.7M) of Oct 2005. The above image, figure E5, from page xii, shows the 4 alternate routes. The precise routes under consideration are being constantly changed. The preferred route currently under consideration is a rough combination of options A and B. Figure 8.4 from page 118, below, shows the hydrological features including the Emigrant Creek catchment shaded with black diagonal stripes.

The Emigrant Creek water catchment overlooking Lennox Heads in Ballina Shire near the far north coast of New South Wales is the easternmost water catchment in Australia. Having the highest and most reliable rainfall yield in that region of Australia, it supplies 30,000 inhabitants of Ballina and Lennox Heads.

The catchment is close to the two-lane Pacific Highway which is to be upgraded to a six-lane to accommodate the growing volumes of traffic. Run-off from the existing highway and the potential for chemical spills from accidents are already considered detrimental to the quality of the water. However, the upgrade, if it were to be built along the same route, would exacerbate that threat unacceptably according to a number local residents. This had also been the stance of the professional management of Rous Water, the body which administers Emigrant Creek and a number of other catchments in the are on behalf of Ballina Shire Council and three other local councils in the area.

On 25 November the majority of Ballina Shire Councillors, against the wishes of the residents and against the position of Rous Water voted to recommend to the RTA that the route of the upgraded highway go through the catchment area. In spite of this setback, the residents of the catchment have not given up the fight. They are preparing a further submission to the RTA which would show the unacceptable risk that the upgrade would pose to the catchment.

The fight to save Emigrant Creek has resulted in a heated argument on the pages of the local newspapers including on the pages of the Northern Rivers Echo.

Letters to Northern Rivers Echo

Motorway magic tricks, Ian Cooke, 2 Nov 06

Double standard, Ian Cooke, 15 Feb 07

Motorway reality check needed, Alan Rich, 22 Feb 07.

Water theory, Fay Bogg, Secretary, Waterdrinkers & Watercatchers of Ballina Shire Inc., 8 Mar 07

Highway observations, Mike Burless, 8 Mar 07

Highway versus water supply, Ian Cooke, 17 May 07