The city of Orange in New South Wales has welcomed new legislation, which will allow water to be pumped from the Macquarie River to the city more often.
Orange Mayor, Reg Kidd, said the new legislation was welcome news to the local community.
“This is the best news the community of Orange has heard for a while and I want to congratulate the Deputy Premier and the Water Minister for their determination in dealing with this legislation so quickly,” Mr Kidd said.
“We’ve been in touch with the government as this new ‘Critical Needs’ legislation was drafted and it specifically mentions Orange among a number of regional centres that need help now.
“I’m confident that in due course the normal departmental processes would have dealt with the obstacles which have kept us from using the pipeline more often. But Orange needs water now for the coming summer and the government’s new ‘Critical Needs’ legislation will clear the way for the pipeline to be adding to our water storage very soon.”
Orange City Council’s Infrastructure Committee chair, Jeff Whitton, said the new legislation will allow the water minister to approve a request from Orange City Council to lower the trigger-point when water can start to be pumped from the Macquarie River.
“Up until now, we’ve had to wait until there was 119ML a day flowing in the river at the off-take point before we could start to pump. That’s the equivalent of waiting until there was 47 olympic swimming pools a day before we could take any water. That’s been a real obstacle,” Mr Whitton said.
“We’ll be asking the government to let us work with the originally-modelled trigger-point of 38ML a day as an ‘emergency’ measure while our dam is below 50 per cent.
“Our very conservative modelling suggests even if this drought continues, there will be enough water at that level to maintain the ecological health of the river and still let us get enough water to prevent us going into Level 6 water restrictions.
“For example, during the whole month of July this year we weren’t able to pump at all from the Macquarie River because the flow didn’t get to 119ML a day. In contrast, the flow in July was above the proposed new trigger-point of 38ML on 30 of those 31 days. It’s a sign of the significant source of water that Orange can now connect to, once this change begins.
“The Macquarie pipeline connects a storage dam with a very small catchment of 179km2 to a catchment in the upper reaches of river that’s 8,000km2. If it rains in that broader area, there’s a potential benefit for Orange,” Mr Whitton said.