Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Continuity of operations

Rous County Council operational staff are still out in the community providing water supply, flood mitigation and weed biosecurity services. During the COVID-19 pandemic we are taking additional steps to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for our staff as they continue to provide these essential services.

As the bulk water provider for Byron, Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley councils, our priority is to operate our dams and deliver reliable and safe drinking water to our customers.

Flood mitigation continue with construction projects and replacement and routine maintenance of various flood mitigation infrastructure.

Weed biosecurity remain focused on administering the Biosecurity Act 2015 in relation to weeds, undertaking a range of regulatory functions, including inspections.

What has been Rous' response to COVID-19?

We understand that we have an obligation to do our part to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 and are working hard to do that. In response to the evolving situation we have made a range of changes to how we operate and believe those changes will help keep our people and their families safer. We are committed to doing our part to contribute to protecting our community.

Some of the types of changes we have put in place are: segregation of teams and duties; physical distancing (where segregation is not possible); strict site entry and movement controls for visitors, contractors and deliveries. These steps have been taken to protect our staff, particularly those who are critical to our day-to-day operations.

We are actively monitoring all key government sources of advice on a daily basis to ensure we have the latest information available to inform our decision making. This includes updating our response plans as required and continuing to share health and hygiene information with our people and strongly encouraging them to follow the advice of health authorities.

Is any support available for Rous retail water customers?

COVID-19 comes at a time when our region has only recently experienced a prolonged drought that was followed by fire and flood. We recognise this is a challenging period and some of our direct water customers may need a helping hand. We have a range of assistance and support programs in place to help our direct water customers who may be experiencing financial difficulties. If your water bill comes from Rous and you are experiencing financial difficulty, please contact us on council@rous.nsw.gov.au.

Are there any access restrictions to your Molesworth Street office?

In response to COVID-19, we have decided to close our face-to-face counter at the Molesworth Street office in Lismore. This is to protect the health and safety of our staff and the community. You can continue doing business with us via (02) 6623 3800 or council@rous.nsw.gov.au.

If Council employees are quarantined at home, will water supply be maintained?

Yes, water supply is an essential service and we are well prepared to manage any impact of COVID-19. Our water treatment plants are secure, have a high level of automation and for short periods, they require few staff to operate. To manage this risk, we are ensuring we have multiple staff members who are able to operate our water treatment plants available and separated at all times.

Council is also establishing multiple teams to operate and maintain our water supply distribution networks. The teams will be available to respond to water breaks and other maintenance issues as normal.

These changes do not interrupt the ongoing operation of our water treatment plants where your water is treated before it gets to you. Our treatment plants include robust processes to ensure that treated drinking water is of a very high quality and complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

I am a supplier / contractor – is there anything specific I need to know?

In order to protect our people and maintain our services, we are limiting access to operational sites, such as our water treatment plants.

From time to time access is required for the delivery of essential goods, maintenance, or construction crews undertaking work on site. We also have some people working in non-operational areas as contractors, consultants or as temporary staff.

If you are a supplier or contractor, we expect you to take similar measures to protect yourself and your staff. You and/or your people seeking access to a Rous site will not be permitted access if:

  • the person seeking access is unwell;
  • the person seeking access to a site has travelled overseas in the past 14 days or believe they have come into contact with a person who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

We reserve the right to seek a separate assurance that you have appropriate control measures in place for you/your people.

All suppliers and contractors should expect to be asked questions about these matters.

Once on site, we expect our suppliers and contractors to follow our protocols and adhere to our standards for hygiene while on site. This includes reporting to Council any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among your people who have visited or worked at a Council site.

Are there site access restrictions for visitors?

Yes. In order to protect our staff who are critical to our service delivery, no visitors (other than those suppliers/contractors mentioned above) are permitted to enter any Rous site. This includes closing public access to the recreational area at Rocky Creek Dam.

The above measures are an important part of our overall plan for the safety and wellbeing of our staff and the continuation of essential services for the people of Byron, Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley through this pandemic.

More information

If you are a member of the community, please email us: council@rous.nsw.gov.au.

If you have a specific question in relation to suppliers and contractor restrictions, please refer these to your usual Council point of contact.