Advocates for the protection of the Macquarie River are resigned to the fact that the Macquarie Pipeline will be going ahead.
Friends of the Macquarie member Ken Smith said the outcome was basically what they were expecting.
Mr Smith said representatives from a number of government departments had told the group the pipeline was going ahead no matter what.
“Personally I think it’s a done deal,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said until the next drought rolls around no one really knows what the damage caused to the river will be. He said he expects a decision to increase the supply of water to Cadia will come with the pipeline.
The government has made a condition that there must be a 108 megalitre flow in the river before water can be pumped from it, however, Mr Smith is concerned that wording has been used in such a way that it is not set in concrete.
“It’s not that great a flow. If you were taking a kayak down the river for instance it would drag in places, but it would be okay for fishing,” Mr Smith said.
“However, if they got the original 38ML flow limit they wanted it would have absolutely devastated the river.
“I’m concerned we will have another Goulburn pipeline situation. Two to three weeks after they got their pipeline council changed the parameters from drought proofing Goulburn to offering to supply industry with water.”
Mr Smith said when the last drought broke, Orange had two years supply of water at Gosling Creek.
He said if they had been desperate, as they said they were, they would have kept that water, but instead they sold it to Cadia.
Mr Smith said he can understand that Cadia is a big employer and council wants to take care of them.
“But when Cadia is using 125ML of water per day to Orange’s 10 or 11 - who’s going to run out first when we go to drought,” he said.
“[Mayor] John Davis said they want to pump only a small percentage of water from the river, so rather than pay all that money they could use their storm water harvesting equipment which they purchased for a fraction of the cost of the pipeline.”
Mr Smith said the pipeline is expected to cost around $50 million plus a further $750,00-$780,000 in maintenance costs per annum regardless of whether they pump water or not.
He said council will need to raise three quarters of a million each year just to meet their running costs.
“Anyway we won’t really know what will happen until the next big drought,” Mr Smith said.