Throwing a light on Bathurst’s environmental future …

So time is ticking away till Bathurst Regional Council’s important February 17 decision about whether to deny the Macquarie River 10 million litres of its recycled effluent every day for the next 10 years or more… and instead, sell it to a goldmine … in Blayney.

Despite the concerns that Council might vote yes on the 17th, I’ve been musing in recent days about the benefits of Council being thrown into the spotlight on this one.

Because going forward, it would be wonderful to know where Bathurst Regional Council really stands on the environment. I mean really stands on the environment.

The Fish River

Work in progress. Detail from The Fish River. M.Hogan

The following ad did the rounds on Council’s Facebook site prior to Australia Day to the amusement/bemusement of many. And Tracy Sorenson rightly asked at last week’s Council meeting “It’s all very well for us to wash our lettuce in the sink rather than under a running tap … and not splash about too much when we’re in the pool … but can you please explain how Council’s Waterwise policy lines up with the proposal to sell 10 million litres of Macquarie River water to a gold mine in Blayney?”

BRC Waterwise ad

A friend of mine said later in the week “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our leaders instead of feeling like they’ve always got to be right, could actually just listen, pause, cut the spin and say “You know Tracy, you’re absolutely right. It doesn’t fit. It is a nonsense. We need to look at this from a wider perspective.”

On the Don’t Mine the Macquarie Facebook page someone highlighted Council’s 2036 Community Strategic Plan and posted a screenshot of page 6 from the plan which outlines the strategic goals for our environmental sustainability.

Note that the Community Strategic Plan “is the highest level plan that a Council must prepare.”  

2036 BRC Community Strategic Plan

  • To protect and enhance … the Macquarie River.
  • To protect and enhance the region’s biodiversity.
  • To protect and enhance water quality and riparian ecology.
  • To secure a sustainable water supply and raise awareness on water issues.

There are many, many good people who work for Bathurst Regional Council at all levels and none of this is intended to undermine the good work that they do for this region. Truly, it is a gorgeous place to live and Council and its staff play a huge part in making it so.

I’m posting these as a reminder because sometimes our loftiest goals can get lost in a drawer.

What do we stand for environmentally in Bathurst?

Can we take a different path to those around us?

Think back to the speaker last week who has owned a house in Bathurst for the past seven years while living in Sydney. For those seven years she has received Council’s quarterly newsletters and read about Council’s green initiatives with interest. And on the strength of that, four weeks ago, she made the move here. Three weeks later she found herself at a council meeting nervously stepping up to basically say WTF? Have I been sold a lemon?

And just on that note, can I make a final comment about courage.

I was sitting a metre or two behind all the speakers at last week’s council meeting, watching their bodies shake with fear and their hands tremble. It does take courage to step up and speak in front of a large audience when you’re not used to it.

It also takes courage to stand on a river with a lonely handful of supporters holding hand made banners. It takes courage to stand in front of the local newspaper with those same supporters and a good few more. It takes courage to be the dissenting voice. To be viewed as the one who stirs up trouble. When others get a bit squirmy, feeling uncomfortable in front of a newspaper or tv camera, Tracey Carpenter is always the first to step up to the plate for our local environment. And whether you agree with her politics or not (Tracey ran for The Greens at our last state election) I for one, admire her courage.

Let there be more of it I say. It’s healthy. It’s robust. It’s called democracy. And aren’t we lucky to have it.

See you on the 17th.

If you haven’t already, please consider signing the petition by clicking here.

Overseas friends please bear with us till this plays out. Our normal blogging program will resume shortly 😉

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    8 Comments

    1. Trine
      Posted 9 February 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      You go girl! Signed……xx

      • Marg
        Posted 9 February 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Good on you Trine. Thank you. x

    2. Sue Douglas
      Posted 9 February 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Beautifully said Marg and love the painting, I think it is really important to keep the pressure up, fingers crossed for the 17th

      • Marg
        Posted 9 February 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Thx Sue. What I’m picking up on is this really genuine concern from a lot of different people in the region. As Sister Pat said at last week’s meeting, when they first started Rahamim 10 years or so ago, environmental issues were fringe territory but in the last two or three years they’ve really hit the mainstream. The thing is too there are other ways for Regis to get water, it doesn’t have to come from the Macquarie. And if the mine goes ahead, Bathurst will still benefit from the mine but we will have protected the river.

    3. Tracey Carpenter
      Posted 9 February 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Marg – this is a great community effort. Interesting to reflect on how differently the council responded when Cadia tried to buy our treated ‘water’ (as it was called then) in the middle of the drought in 2008. A community discussion forum was held in front of the Councillors who did hear loud and clear from the community. Councillors then spoke out strongly to protect our water and our river and voted, all, but one, against the sale to the gold mine. Crs North and Bourke are still there considering this bid – nothing has changed except the strategy of the company making the pitch who have been wooing the business chamber and the council and spent much on advertising and Council reports. Do our representatives still value our water security and our river, and heed the voice of the community or will the WA miners and the business chamber convince them to sell us out?

      • Marg
        Posted 9 February 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        The 2008 article from the Advocate about that vote (that was posted on the Don’t Mine the Macquarie Facebook site) gave me hope that they will reject this one. Fingers crossed indeed.

    4. Posted 9 February 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      The other opportunity this presents is to revisit the Waterwise strategy and really give it some teeth. Look at ways and incentives to cut our personal water usage. Run competitions, give prizes. Don’t just put the onus on Council but on the people of Bathurst as a whole. The problems with the river and water belong to all of us.

      For instance if Council do say no to this proposal, imagine if the town got behind that decision with a water saving campaign to try and match the amount of water that’s been saved.

      You’d need to include the irrigators in this too. I’m an ex farmer and the countless times I’ve seen irrigation systems working in the middle of the day, let alone in hot, windy conditions is a pointless, expensive, wasteful exercise that should be banned.

      It’d be such a great promotion for the town to take on and the Waterwise strategy would become really meaningful.

      • Marg
        Posted 9 February 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        And this is why I love you 🙂 You should run for council Hogie x

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