An environmentalist and university lecturer has pleaded with Orange City Council to abandon plans to harvest stormwater from a creek system.
Dr Cilla Kinross said council's stormwater harvesting project on the Blackman's Swamp Creek was already "raping and pillaging" the waterways.
She called on council to stop the $5 million Blackmans Swamp Stormwater Harvesting stage two project.
However, Orange mayor Reg Kidd said the project was a "win-win" situation as it benefited both the environment and Orange residents who gained much-needed water.
It's been abused and abused and used.Dr Cilla Kinross, Summer Hill Creek Care group
He said water was only taken during the peak of a storm when the river was flowing.
Dr Kinross, who is the chair of the Summer Hill Creek Care group and the Central West Environment Council said she expected strong protests from environmental groups similarly to action over the first stage several years ago.
"We thought that was the end of it, but along comes the drought and now stage two is rearing its ugly head," she said during the public forum of last Tuesday's council meeting.
"It is likely very strong limits will be put on what council will be allowed to remove from the creek," she added.
Dr Kinross said the Blackmans Swamp Creek/Summer Hill Creek waterway "suffers terribly" from existing extractions.
"It is an extremely highly stressed creek. The creek is not a magic pudding. It has already given up so much water. It's been abused and abused and used.
"You can't keep raping and pillaging the local creeks."
Dr Kinross told the Central Western Daily she wanted to know what was planned: "We need to know how much extra water they are planning to take and what they would do for environmental assessment," she said.
"The whole process of water extraction assumes they can take whatever they like."
Dr Kinross questioned whether plans to increase the population of Orange was a good thing considering the lack of water available for the city.
"Do we really need all these extra people?" she said.
Cr Kidd said planning had begun for the second stage of the stormwater harvesting project.
He said the state government would provide $2.5 million while council had budgeted to provide the same amount.
Cr Kidd said the scheme would be subject to tight controls.
He said stormwater harvesting did not mean water would be extracted from the waterways.
Cr Kidd said it could only be harvested during a strong flow on the river.
"It is only taken during a peak of a storm event. All you are doing is re-using the water," he said.
Cr Kidd said it helped reduce erosion of the creek banks.
He said when the harvested water was treated it also helped remove pollutants from the water.
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