CENTRAL Tablelands Water general manager Tony Perry says Needles Gap is the best option for water security for the region, despite 18 years of lobbying for an expansion of Lake Rowlands.
The Needles Gap Dam was a water security proposal that never featured on a comprehensive Centroc water security study in 2009.
The same study recommended an expansion of Lake Rowlands, 60 kilometres south of Orange, from 4500 megalitres to 26,500 megalitres as the most appropriate option.
On Friday the state government announced it would fund a $150 million, 90,000 megalitre dam at Needles Gap, at Panuara, along the Belubula River.
Mr Perry said the water county council had lobbied for the expansion, however, State Water Corporation had approached the council and asked if it would support a proposal for a dam at Needles Gap.
State Water could then turn over Carcoar Dam and Lake Rowlands for urban and commercial use only.
“Carcoar Dam is not really good country for a dam. It’s a poor catchment area and 50 years ago there was supposed to be a dam built at Needles, but due to the political situation at the time it was built instead at Carcoar,” Mr Perry said.
He said there was a major water main from Lake Rowlands through to Blayney, which went past Carcoar Dam, and the main could easily be made to link to Carcoar Dam.
That would mean 41,000 megalitres of water storage would be available to the region for urban use, including Orange, if a pipeline was built.
In comparison, Suma Park Dam is 17,290 megalitres and Wyangala Dam is 1.22 million megalitres.
“It would be quite easy to connect Orange to Carcoar Dam,” Mr Perry said.
Needles Dam would be set aside for irrigation and the water sold off in bulk to organisations such as mines, for operating purposes.
“The economic benefit is unreal,” Mr Perry said.
“One of the biggest challenges to building economic development is the storage of water,” he said.
“It’s going to be a lifeline for the area.”