Tweed Shire is running out of water

The Clarrie Hall Dam as it exists, can provide sufficient water up until 2031. Depending on population increases and water saving measures, this time frame may be extended.

A New dam at Byrrill Creek will provide the best water security

Raising Clarrie Hall Dam will hold more water (46 000 ML) than either of the Byrrill Creek dam options (small dam 16,000ML - large dam 36,000ML). Dam water contains toxic pollutants and is unfit for human consumption without high quality treatment processes.

2 dams are better than 1

The catchments are side by side - the dam walls only 6.5 km apart - and have similar rainfall patterns (in fact Byrrill Creek receives 10% less than Doon Doon). If one area is dry then so is the other!

Clarrie Hall will have to be emptied to rebuild the Spillway, so we need a 2 nd supply of water.

The NSW States Dams Safety Committee advised Council in 2002 to increase the size of the spillway on Clarrie Hall Dam for high flood events. The upgrade must be completed by 2016 .

Council is preparing plans now & during the upgrade the dam will only have to be reduced to 65% capacity. This is far more water than the dam held during the drought!
In 2016 a Byrrill Creek dam will still be in its planning phases (at least 7 years) & will not be the 2 nd supply.

Millions of dollars have been spent at Byrrill Creek & council owns the land

The Council does not own all the land affected by a dam at Byrrill Creek. At the very least, 1/3 of the land inundated by a 36,000ML dam belongs to one property owner, with a further 5 properties directly inundated. 21ha of National Park will also be inundated. An additional 6 properties are affected by the buffer zone.

Council purchased the land in 1986 (1,131ha, of which only a portion is flooded) and it was not worth “millions”- $882,200 is the estimated cost based on land values at that time. No other landholder in Byrrill Creek Rd has sold their property to the council, and 2 properties affected by the dam have been sold privately this year.

We should follow the vision of our “forefathers”

One of those “forefathers”, Max Boyd, who was Mayor for many years, has stated that times change, & Clarrie Hall Dam is the best option.

The Byrrill Creek dam is a cost effective solution to the Tweed's water supply needs.

Raising Clarrie Hall Dam wall will cost an estimated $34,450,000 which is much less than a Byrrill Creek Dam (Small dam $45,437,500 - Large dam $67,355,000). Councillors are pushing the large dam option.


Estimated costs for the larger Byrrill Creek Dam option are already on the rise. In April 2009 - $51million, in October 2009 - $58.4million & November 2010 - $67million (a 30% increase in 18 months). These costs will keep rising just like the proposed Tillegra Dam near Newcastle: August 2006 - $300million, October 2009 - $477million … a 59% increase in 3 years!

Ratepayers will be paying for the dam for many many years into the future!

Why Dams are Obsolete

Dams are obsolete and are contrary to the NSW Governments Weirs Policy. The goal of the State Weirs Policy is to halt and, where possible, reduce and remediate the environmental impact of weirs.

The NSW Weirs Policy lists the following 12 reasons why dams are discouraged.

•The still waters in weir pools are less biologically productive than natural river channels, as native species adapted to diverse and free-flowing stream conditions are disadvantaged;

•Riparian vegetation is drowned in the weir pool or killed by water-logging in low-lying areas of adjoining floodplains;

• Weirs act as a trap for sediments, nutrients and pollutants;

• Invertebrate and detrital drift is reduced, reducing biological productivity and diversity below weirs; • Weir conditions favour water stratification in summer and the growth of algae and development of algal blooms;

• Weirs obstruct native fish migration and reduce native fish populations;

• The relatively stable conditions in weir pools give alien species, such as carp, an advantage over native species;

• weir pools may affect groundwater systems by maintaining artificially high water levels, resulting in groundwater mounding;

• Inundation of surrounding areas destroys flora and fauna habitat, including that of threatened species;

• Weirs accumulate sediments and prevent their downstream flow, resulting in erosion and scouring downstream of the weir;

• A constant level of discharge from weirs can result in geomorphological changes to rivers, tending to make them wider and shallower; and

• Weirs can alter temperature regimes down stream, resulting in an adverse impact on native flora and fauna

In determining the need for a new or expanded weir, the following general principles apply:

• Provision for fish passage cannot be used as a sole justification to approve a proposal to enlarge an existing weir.

Why the claimed need for more water  

The water issue is just part of the huge picture of a doubling of our shire's population to 157,000 by 2036. Massive developments like Kings Forest , Cobaki Lakes and Bilambil Rise , are being driven by the Council, greedy developers & the State government. None of it is sustainably planned to look at the carrying capacity of this beautiful land in which we live. . There are alternatives to dams

There would be no need for a dam, either at Byrrill Creek or Clarrie Hall if

•  grey water recycling was introduced for businesses & industry in the Tweed (top 5% of users account for 70% of non-residential water use)
•  Council required the new developments at Kings Forest and Cobaki to implement dual reticulation to reuse water for toilets and outdoor garden use only.
  • Large scale water tanks & storm water harvesting would further reduce the need for dams. Dams increase dependence on a single source of supply.
  • They delay necessary technological changes and inevitable social changes. Water saving methods, as above, are already mandatory requirements in SE Queensland, eg Pimpana & Coomera Waters. 

Is the Council Decision based on Scientific Facts & Recommendations?

The shortsighted decision by some Councillors flies in the face of all recommendations: from their own Council Water Staff; from community consultation - the CWG (Community Working Group); the NSW Dept of Environment, Climate Change & Water (DECCW) and National Parks. The NSW and Federal   legislation, dealing with endangered species protection, make a dam on Byrrill Creek an unacceptable choice. The NSW Weirs Policy also states: “ An increase in town water supply for the purposes of meeting projected population demand cannot be used as a justification to approve a proposal to build a new, or expand an existing weir, if environmentally friendlier alternatives to meeting that demand exist, which are also economically feasible”.  

How you can help:  

Ask that the prohibition on Byrrill Creek dam is upheld in the New Tweed Water Sharing Plan because of its high conservation value and biodiversity.  

Join the Facebook site “The Battle for Byrrill Creek”.

• The campaign itself is called Save Byrrill Creek. Watch out for newsfeeds, sample letters to Politicians

.•  Watch the videos Save Byrrill Creek and Dam the Tweed on YouTube.   Enquiries: Joanna Gardner (02) 6679 7039.