Orange City Council in New South Wales can now pump water from the Macquarie Pipeline more often, in a temporary move to help the community through the drought.

The NSW Government has approved a change in the trigger point when pumping can begin from river, down from a flow rate of 108ML a day in the river at the offtake point, to 38ML a day.

The Orange pipeline is the first project to be approved under the Critical Needs water legislation introduced in 2019 to fast track vital water infrastructure for regional towns.

Upper House MP, Sam Farraway, said the application from Orange City Council to change the operating conditions of the Macquarie River pipeline to allow pumping during lower flows was finalised in six weeks and will provide the community with vital access to additional water supply.

“The Orange community has been affected hard by the drought,” Mr Farraway said.

“Despite the community rallying and reducing consumption of water significantly, residents and businesses are now facing the prospect of Level 6 restrictions.

“The council’s application is to pump water from the Macquarie River when the flow rate is greater than 38ML a day – down from 108ML.”

Orange Mayor, Reg Kidd, has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement of the new trigger-point for the Macquarie Pipeline.

“Independent modelling which assumes years of drought conditions continuing, predicts that there will still be enough flow in the river to make a difference to the community of Orange,” Mr Kidd said.

“The new trigger point gets the balance right between protecting the environment and contributing another source of water to assist the Orange community through this drought.

“The recent figure of 119 litres per person, per day shows how hard our community is working to play its part. This announcement today will come as great encouragement to them to battle on.”

Mr Farraway said that under the new approval, Orange City Council must work with the Department to establish a monitoring program to manage the potential downstream impacts.

The approval is in place for 12 months, and will lapse if the combined Orange City Council water storage exceeds 50 per cent.

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