BUDGET blowouts that have plagued Orange City Council’s recent capital works projects, have prompted deputy mayor Jeff Whitton to cast doubt over its ability to build the $47 million to the Macquarie Pipeline.
Cr Whitton withdrew his support for the pipeline in October last year.
At the time he said he wanted to scrap the project because it did not have ratepayers’ suppport.
“I was very pro [the pipeline] I was the main person who headed it up,” he said.
“But my view changed based on my belief of council’s ability to deliver the project of this size within the monies that have been allocated, with all due respect to council staff.”
Cr Whitton said he was not convinced the council had the project management expertise to deliver the project within the $47 million budget.
“If it does blowout we can’t go back to the government to get more money,” he said.
According to the council’s water security website an independent consultant puts the upper estimate of the project at $51 million.
Cr Whitton said the technical aspects of the pipeline stack up.
“[But] if we go outside that budget for even five per cent any additional cost will be on ratepayers of Orange,” he said.
“With council’s current track record with capital works projects to date with the aquatic centre and the northern distributor we haven’t stayed within budget and projected costs and we have had blowouts.”
While more pipeline opponents than supporters had approached Cr Whitton about the project, he believed the business community was behind the 37-kilometre pipeline.
“There’s no doubt we were on the brink of businesses not being able to trade [during drought],” he said.
“Especially those trade-type business that need water.”
Despite his opposition, Cr Whitton said all new councillors should back the direction the council decides to go with the pipeline - whether it is scrapped or given the go ahead.
“The danger is that we don’t get into procrastination, if we don’t identify a solution by the end of this year we’re not doing our job,” he said.
“I’m a big supporter of stormwater harvesting and believe we should be lobbying the state government in being able to increase the harvesting.”
Cr Whitton said the pipeline’s Environmental Assessment could change the opinion of people for an against the project.