ORANGE City Council could have been harvesting hundreds of thousands of litres of stormwater during recent downpours if its scheme had approval to run at full capacity, according to councillor Russell Turner.
Cr Turner was one of several councillors who questioned why the council was still waiting for approval to expand the scheme at Tuesday’s council meeting.
He said Tuesday’s rain caused minor flooding at the first crossing on Ophir Road, but Orange was missing out.
“If we were able to capture that water it would be hundreds of thousands of litres,” he said.
“There are always storms, even in the biggest drought.”
The Blackmans Swamp scheme can only operate when Suma Park Dam is at 50 per cent.
The Ploughmans Creek scheme has approval to operate at any time, however, because the two are connected, the council has chosen to wait until both are approved.
Technical services director Chris Devitt said the “protracted” legal battle to approve the permanent use of the Blackmans Swamp scheme, whatever Suma Park Dam’s level, would continue before a Land Board tribunal in May.
“It threatens the long-term viability of our water security system,” he said.
Mr Devitt said there were about six downstream users of the river who had objected to the council using the scheme outside of the emergency conditions because of concerns it would have a detrimental effect on the environment.
Orange mayor John Davis said the objections were “democracy at its best”, but he hoped the council and landholders would be able to work together.
“The great thing about [the scheme] is that when high flows come through ... we’re only harvesting a percentage of that,” he said.
“We haven’t been able to use the harvesting for 12 to 18 months and with six inches of rain it would have been an ideal opportunity.
“I don’t think the downstream users would have opposed that.”