Future water for our region

Future Water Project 2060

In July 2021, Rous County Council adopted a three-stage Future Water Project 2060 following two extensive public exhibition periods.

Our mission - to secure our region a high-quality drinking water supply for future generations and continue to deliver ongoing water conservation measures.

The challenges

  • Population growth forecasts indicate a 37% increase in drinking water demand by 2060.
  • Climate forecasts predict a reduction in available surface water of 22% by 2060.
  • On current growth, water demand will exceed reliable supply by 2024.

Our communities

Byron Shire, Ballina Shire, Lismore City and Richmond Valley. A supply area of over 3,000km2, encompassing growing and diverse communities.

Acknowledgement of Country

Rous County Council acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which it works and pays respect to Elders past, present and future. We are committed to working in partnership with the Traditional Custodians of the Bundjalung Nation.

Rocky Creek Dam

Existing water sources

With a capacity of 14,000ML, Rocky Creek Dam has been the primary bulk water source for the region since 1953. Water is also sourced from Emigrant Creek Dam at Brooklet (north-west of Ballina) and from the Wilsons River at Howards Grass upstream from Lismore. When full, Rocky Creek Dam is able to meet a year's water needs for our total supply area.

Forecasting future needs and supply

Future forecast

Future focus

  1. Continued water efficiency and conservation measures.
  2. Identifying and preparing new sources of groundwater.
  3. Further investigate purified recycled water systems and sources.
  4. Further assessment of desalination plant locations.

Project stages 2021-2060

Over the next 40 years, Rous will take a 3-stage approach to investigating, implementing and securing our region's water supply.

Stage 1 - Key short-term actions

2021-2025 focuses on maximising the efficiencies of our existing water sources by continuing to implement water conservation programs, upgrading existing community infrastructure at the Marom Creek Water Treatment Plant and developing existing bores to access groundwater from the Clarence-Moreton Basin, deep below Alstonville's aquifer. This stage also commences the planning for a pilot purified recycled water treatment plant to obtain community acceptance of the advanced purification technology, as well as complete further investigations into the opportunities of purified recycled water as an indirect water supply option.

Stage 2 - Meeting the short-term growth in our region

2026-2029 focuses on the further delivery of contemporary water conservation measures and delivery of a new groundwater scheme in the Byron Shire area. This stage will commence planning for future groundwater sources and the construction and verification process of the pilot purified recycled water treatment plant. This will coincide with a broad community education program about the benefits of purified recycled water.

Stage 3 - Delivering long-term water security

2030-2060 focuses on being agile and keeping all appropriate options available to respond to a changing climate and advancements in technology. This stage is critical in determining and implementing the most cost effective and sustainable option to secure the region's long-term water supply to 2060 and beyond.

Future potential options

  • Further groundwater schemes.
  • Purified recycled water schemes.
  • Seawater desalination (local and regional).

Three stage future water project

Water conservation

Since 1995, our region has reduced individual water consumption by 50%. The Future Water Project 2060 prioritises the continuation of that reduction via a suite of measures. Moving forward, these ongoing water efficiency measures can go on to secure a further 15% reduction across our communities in the long term.

Water conservation

Partnership activities with local councils

  • Reducing water loss through all local councils' water pipelines.
  • The Sustainable Water Partner Program, with a focus on the highest non-residential users.
  • Provision of smart metering for customers to better understand their water use and manage leaks.
  • Increasing uptake of existing recycled water in Ballina and Byron for non-residential users.
  • Provision of rainwater tank rebates.
  • Ongoing community engagement and information sharing on water conservation.

Smart metering

Over a 2-year period starting from late 2021, Rous will commence planning for the rollout of smart metering to all of our 2,000 direct customers.

Benefits of smart metering include better monitoring of daily water use to help customers find new ways to reduce consumption, and early notification of leaks.

It also provides Rous with accurate real time data for better planning.

Technology for water loss management

Rous will invest in technologies for better pressure management and active leak detection, with the potential to significantly reduce water loss within the bulk supply network.

Reducing household water use

In 1991, the average water use was 484KL per connection per annum.

By 2019, usage was reduced to 247KL per connection per annum.

In 2021, use is 195 litres per person per day. Our usage target is 160 litres per person per day.

Litres per day

Further information

Download the Future Water Project 2060 Community Summary brochure here

Frequently Asked Questions