RESIDENTS have been assured water storage is still healthy despite an inability to use the Macquarie Pipeline.
Phil Stevenson, who was involved in environmental groups during the pipeline’s planning, voiced his concern the Macquarie River had been running at less than 108 megalitres a day for the past three weeks.
Orange City Council is allowed to pump from the river when Suma Park Dam drops below 90 per cent and flows exceed 108 megalitres.
At the Long Point station this week, the river’s fastest flow was 66 megalitres on Wednesday, up from a low of 36 on Monday.
Mr Stevenson said recent months of dry weather did not bode well.
“The idea was to pump whenever they possibly could and they failed to do that,” he said.
“You never know when the next 10-year drought is going to start – if this is the start of a 10-year drought, it’s a white elephant.”
The previous council was told a formula was used to decide whether to run the pipeline based on licence conditions, storage levels and weather forecasts.
Staff indicated the stormwater harvesting scheme would be a more likely option as it was cheaper to run.
A review of raw water management published to the council’s website said the council did not use the pipeline nor the stormwater harvesting system between July 1, 2016 and June 30 because it was not required.
“The two storages [Spring Creek and Suma Park dams] remained full until around mid-October  and then gradually decreased as inflows reduced,” the report said.
Mayor Reg Kidd, who was not among the concerned councillors last month, said 73 per cent capacity in Suma Park was “still very, very good”.
“That’s five years without any rain,” he said.
“It doesn’t take a big storm to hit the [stormwater harvesting] trigger.”
He disagreed the pipeline was a white elephant because it was a water security measure in case other methods failed.