Future water for our region

Future Water Project 2060

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.

Acknowledgment 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 Newrybar and from the Wilsons River at Howards Grass upstream from Lismore. When full, Rocky Creek Dam is able to meet a years 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 recycled water systems and sources.
  4. Further assessment on desalination plant locations.

Investigating additional supply options regionally

Extensive investigations have been completed to evaluate all future options for the region's water supply. On the evidence and community acceptance, the following options present meaningful sources for ongoing and emergency water supply for our region.

  1. Ground water sources.
  2. Recycled water.
  3. Desalination.

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 undertaking innovative water conservation measures programs and upgrading existing community infrastructure at the Marom Creek Water Treatment Plant and its existing network of groundwater bores. This stage also commences the planning for a pilot purified recycled water treatment plant to obtain community acceptance of the advance 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).

Stages of preferred water plan

Water conservation

Since 1995, our region has reduced individual water consumption by 50%. Our plan incorporates a continuation of that reduction via a suite of measures. Moving forward, these ongoing efficency measures can go on to secure a further 15% reduction across our communities in the long term.

Water conservation

Partnership activities with local councils

  • Monitoring and reporting.
  • Water loss management.
  • The Sustainable Water Partner Program.
  • Smart metering.
  • Recycled water.
  • Rainwater tank rebates.
  • Community education.

Smart metering

Over a 2-year period starting from mid 2021, Rous will commence the rollout of smart metering to all 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, significantly reducing 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.

Current 2021 use is 195ltr per person per day. Usage reduction target is 160ltr per person per day.

Litres per day

Further information

Download the Future Water Project 2060 Community Summary brochure here

Download the Future Water Project 2060 public exhibition document.

Supporting reports for the Future Water Project 2060 are available here.

Submissions for the Future Water Project 2060 are now closed.

What happens to the submissions?

Feedback from submissions received will be collated and reported to Council in July 2021. Copies of these submissions will be made available on Council's website at this time.

Frequently Asked Questions