Orange City Council has hit back at claims by the Orange and Region Water Security Alliance following the group’s demand for government funding for the Macquarie River pipeline to be redirected towards a regional solution for future water supply.
The alliance called for an independent study into the council’s water security strategy in a paper outlining its position on the controversial pipeline, launched at NSW Parliament House yesterday by Ian Kiernan.
Alliance spokesman Neil Jones said Orange had a secure water supply for the next five years.
“We should be looking to use federal and state funding not only to benefit Orange but other towns and villages,” he said.
“If you’re going to take water out of the Macquarie River catchment why not take it from a more secure source like Burrendong Dam.”
But council spokesman Nick Redmond said it was a shortsighted view and the Burrendong pipeline would be twice as long and twice as expensive.
“We’re not talking about five years we’re talking about 50 years,” he said.
Mr Jones said the river is only a “trickle” at 34 megalitres a day, the lower limit when the pipeline can operate.
But Mr Redmond said the water level at Gardiners Hole, the extraction site, would only drop by 19 millimetres even at a worse case scenario.
Mr Jones said council needs to reconsider the underlying modelling used to determine the secure yield.
“They’re looking at a lower demand figure based on this business as usual principle,” he said.
But Mr Redmond said the group had misconstrued the figures and the council had “laid a lot of ground” in water demand management.
Mr Jones called for a more “flexible arrangement” between council and Cadia Valley Operations which hadn’t taken any treated effluent from Orange for months.
“It just goes back down Summer Hill Creek as treated effluent like it used to,” he said.
“If we had an alternative use for that waste water ... it takes the pressure off Suma Park Dam.”
But Mr Redmond said the alliance’s position on how much waste water should be sent to the mine was unclear.
“Mr Kiernan said all the water should be taken back from Cadia, in the position paper they say 6 per cent, and their actual figure is 15 per cent,” he said.
“Even if it was 6 or 15 per cent it’s not delivering the amount of water security we need.”