A NSW parliamentary inquiry has been urged to consider the security of Cliefden Caves in their assessment of the future of water supply in NSW.
The inquiry panel heard evidence from local government, environmentalists, irrigators, landholders and a primary producer at the Orange Ex-Service’s Club on Wednesday.
The onus is on the NSW Government to demonstrate their dams will not impact on the caves."
The inquiry, chaired by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party upper house member Robert Brown, is gathering evidence around NSW to report back by October 27.
It was told that a proposed dam at Cranky Rock on the Belubula river should not be able to endanger the cave system nearby.
The chairman of Central Tablelands Water Cr David Somervaille told the inquiry that of two proposals for a dam at Cranky Rock, the one positioned at a lower level known as Cranky Rock 2, was being favoured by the feasibility study team.
“Cranky Rock 2 has the potential to have no, or virtually no impact, on the caves,” he said.
Mr Somervaille also said that other sites for a dam were being considered.
“We know they are a looking at other options.”
He said that included raising the wall at Wyangala Dam or creating a new dam above it.
The inquiry was told the new dam was proposed to hold about 500 gigalitres.
It also heard the Central West needed a new dam to provide water security for the region.
CENTROC councils group member and Parkes Shire council general manager Kent Boyd said the last major drought a few years ago had revealed the unreliabililty of water supply in the region.
“The security of our supplies is dwindling,” he said.
“Many towns were on water restrictions, often to protect their industry.
“When you close down an industry, they’re off, they’re gone.”
Save Clieden Caves Association secretary Harry Burkitt said he was opposed to the Cranky Rock dam as it put the caves, renowned for scientific, historic and educational values, at risk.
““The onus is on the NSW government to demonstrate their dams will not impact on the caves,” he said.
“Both of the Cranky Rock dam proposals put forward by Water NSW will impact on Cliefden caves,” he said.