Wallis Lake fishers and oyster farmers have organised an urgent meeting with MidCoast Council over concerns the proposed desalination plant in the Wallamba River could spell the death knell for the river and the industry.
However, Wallis Lake Fishermen's Co-op fears the project could have a devastating effect on both the recreational and professional fishing, oyster and prawn industries.
"This is a prime traditional prawn area," Wallis Lake Fishermen's Co-op operations manager, Suzie McEnallay said.
Mrs McEnallay explained the proposed discharge site in the Wallamba River, near Darawank, was a prime marine breeding habitat.
"There is no science that says this will be okay," she said.
"The river system cannot sustain a desalination plant; it needs to be in the ocean - end of story.
The river system cannot sustain a desalination plant; it needs to be in the ocean.Suzie McEnallay
"They (council) have not acknowledged any concerns for the fishing or oyster industries; there has been no stakeholder conversations taken into account.
"We were not given the opportunity to voice our concerns."
Due to the lack of rainfall throughout the region, water has become slightly more 'salty' than normal.
The river currently has a higher salinity level than the ocean.
"The currents don't flow strong in that section of river so any heightened salt levels occurring naturally are hard to flush through the system without the addition of a deliberate salty brine 1.6 times the salinity level added directly into the water.
"The decision to make this the intake and discharge spot for a desalination plant due to the suggested ideal 'brackish' water (which is incorrect) shows a complete misunderstanding of the river system and the lack of scientific research into this project."
Mrs McEnallay believed council's move this week to fast-track the project was irresponsible.
"We call for an immediate halt until stakeholder consultation can be completed."
MidCoast Council infrastructure and engineering services director, Rob Scott acknowledged the group's concerns and confirmed council was meeting them tomorrow, Friday, January 10 for discussion.
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