WHILE two councillors have taken the time to write their own submissions opposing the Macquarie River pipeline, Bathurst Regional Council has remained silent.
Councillors Warren Aubin and Gary Rush have joined member for Bathurst Paul Toole in putting together submissions against Orange’s proposal to pipe water from the Macquarie River to boost the city’s inadequate water supply.
But council general manager David Sherley confirmed council did not enter a submission opposing the pipeline. He said council understood the operation would have no impact on Ben Chifley Dam.
Mr Sherley said his understanding was the proposal would have to go through a detailed review process and reports would need to be produced at that time.
“We’ll monitor how that goes,” he said.
Mr Toole said any water taken from the pipeline would have an impact on farmers, irrigators, households and communities on the river. He has opposed the removal of water from the Macquarie River since the idea was first raised in 2009.
Mr Toole said that as the mayor of Bathurst he was vocal on the issue and he would continue to be so as the local member. He said he made a submission because he wanted to make sure the matter was fully investigated before action was taken.
“I’ve met with a number of different groups about this issue,” he said.
“Nobody owns the Macquarie River. It is not owned by any one town.
“We must make sure all options are looked at before we even consider going down this path.”
Cr Aubin said he took the time to put in a submission against the pipeline because, when he stood for election, he made water security an issue. He wasn’t alone.
“I feel it could be detrimental to Bathurst’s water supply,” he said.
“In a time of low rain and drought, are they going to ask Bathurst to release a load of water from Chifley Dam?”
Cr Aubin said he was disappointed that everyone else who stood for water security at the election failed to make submissions regarding the pipeline.
“I’m not a greenie but it would obviously have some effect on the Macquarie River,” he said.
“I’ve been against it since it was first flagged. I thought it was a pretty dumb idea – an easy way out. Is it the start of another Murray/Darling disaster? Nobody can answer that. I just don’t think enough thought has gone into it.”
Cr Rush said although he was new to council he had spoken to people about the pipeline and found there were still too many questions about the proposal.
“If you were to say to most residents that the pipeline has the potential to operate 174 days a year, pumping 19 hours per day, they would be alarmed by that,” he said.
“If the flow of the river is at 38 megalitres, the pump would be entitled to pull out 12 megalitres, which is one third of the quantity of the river. That is enough to raise serious concerns.”