Mayor left out: Damned if I knew

NOT all Central West mayors have immediately thrown their support behind Federal member for Calare John Cobb's latest project - a push to construct a 90,000 megalitre dam at Needles Gap near Canowindra on the Belubula River.

In fact Cowra mayor Bill West - who was not invited this week to Cobb's visit to the project site, nor involved in any prior discussions - says it is difficult to form an opinion quickly on such a complex and apparently diverse issue.

Cobb invited the mayors of Orange, Cabonne, Blayney and Bathurst this week to the site to press his case that the need for the dam was "huge."

"If the climate change people are right, there will be less rain which is much more reason and need to build more water storage," Mr Cobb said.

"Australia hasn't built a major dam in 40 years. This will solve the water crisis now and well into the future."


Mr Cobb said the dam was also needed to provide a "confidence boost" for Calare and combat recent job losses across the region, including at Electrolux.

"It creates jobs and productively and gives investors confidence (to sit) up and do it," he said.

However, yesterday Cr West pointed out 'a lot of water needed to pass under the bridge' before the proposal could be termed a job creation program.

"Cowra Council is acutely aware and supportive of the need for water security particularly for urban communities within the Central West region, hence why the Centroc water security study needs to be reviewed and updated, a review that would clearly include Lake Rowlands and other potential dam sites including the Needles," Cr West said.

"Water security is an imperative for the entire region so the entire region can be sustained and grow. This needs to be strategic and well thought out from a regional perspective, not from one or two local government areas nor from a state or federal electorate perspective."

Cr West said he was not invited to this week's meeting nor had knowledge of the proposal.

"It's disappointing considering it is within our shire boundary - Cowra shire runs from the Limestone Creek junction with the Belubula to where it meets the Lachlan River," he said.

"The other disappointing thing is had we been involved in discussions that seem to have been going on for some time we could have drawn their attention to the fact that some of the land in LEP 2012 is mapped as Environmental Heritage."

Mr Cobb is seeking a feasibility study. If given the green light, he said the project would take five years to construct and cost somewhere in the vicinity of $150 million, though that was "not the final figure".

According to Central Tablelands Water deputy chair David Somervaille, it would be a "reasonably inexpensive dam per volume of water" and would free up Carcoar Dam, which is currently used for irrigation, as a source of drinking water.

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