IF all goes to plan, Orange will have an operational Macquarie pipeline by April 2015.
But there is still one more hurdle for Orange City Council to jump before the first sod can be turned on a project designed to secure Orange’s water supply.
The federal government’s approval comes with 13 conditions related to the preservation of the superb parrot and maintaining protection for endangered fish species such as trout cod.
The project will feature a 39-kilometre underground pipe stretching from Long Point on the Macquarie River to Suma Park Dam at Orange
Orange mayor John Davis said it had been a long three-and-a-half year battle and staff were forced to deal with “really personal criticism”.
“This project was too important not to follow through,” he said.
“It stood up when people said it wouldn’t and those that thought Lake Rowlands was a better project now have been found that that project is left a bit to be wanting.”
Cr Davis said the conditions imposed on the project were not anything the council did not expect.
The next step is for a construction management plan to be completed to show how the construction of the project will comply with each detail of the conditions set by state and federal governments.
The NSW Planning Department must then sign off on the plan once it is satisfied the council will comply with the conditions.
Cr Davis hopes the department will sign off on the construction management plan within six months and the pipeline will need another 12 months to construct.
He said the pipeline was the best solution at the moment but he supported a major dam at Needles near Carcoar to “drought-proof” the whole region.
“But that’s a 50-year plan,” he said.
Orange City Council technical services director Chris Devitt said the imposed conditions were workable.
“A number of the new conditions establish ways of protecting endangered white box trees and particularly bush which is a habitat for superb parrots,” he said.
“Individual tree habitats will be assessed and new nature reserves will be established.”