Creek’s future in balance
THE new-look board of the Nymboida Canoe Centre is facing tough challenges in 2014, including coming up with events that don't include using too much water.
Late last year, five new faces joined the board, including new president Colin Lang. Mr Lang, with Gavin Rayward, Trevor Hewitt, Ken Tucker and Jason Barker, join two previous board members Janelle and David Young.
Mr Lang, a retired Grafton High School principal, said the board was determined to keep the canoe centre open, despite considerably reduced water levels in Goolang Creek.
He said schools and universities continued to use the site and some canoeing was available on the nearby Nymboida River.
"Schools come here for outdoor education and residential colleges at UNE come here for retreats," Mr Lang said.
He said the problem was uncertainty over the future of the Nymboida Hydro Electric Power Station, which used water redirected from the Nymboida down Goolang Creek to generate electricity.
Flooding last year damaged the pipes, allowing a torrent of mud and rocks to clog the creek, damaging properties downstream.
"At the moment the only water coming into the creek is an environmental flow, pumped into the creek below the canoe centre," Mr Lang said.
He said the future of the creek relied on what Essential Energy decided to do with the power station, which began operations about 90 years ago.
Its age means Essential Energy cannot get environmental credits for electricity it generates, reducing its viability for the company.
"To restore the flow, Essential Energy will need to repair the tunnel bringing water to the power station and restore the generators to operating capacity," he said.
"They are, in effect, renovating the creek and the power station."
But Mr Lang said there could be other considerations in keeping the generator going.
"The power station was Sir Earl Page's legacy to the Clarence Valley," he said. "Maybe that's something the politicians should consider."
Mr Lang said the new board was the strategic planning team for the canoe centre.
"It includes directors with an array of professional skills and experience in sport and outdoor education, engineering, property development, environmental conservation and special interest tourism management," Mr Lang said.
"The strong community support for the centre is very encouraging and we plan to channel this enthusiasm in ways that will keep the centre operating into the foreseeable future."