Cowra mayor Bill West has stressed the need for further studies into a pipeline connecting Cowra to Orange and Central Tablelands Water after councils received $5.5 million worth of funding for the project.
The project would include building a number of extra pump stations and a new reservoir, along with an upgrade to the inlet system at Cowra where water is pumped from the Lachlan River after its release from Wyangala Dam.
Upgrading the pipeline would allow potable water to be transferred from the Cowra Water Treatment Plant to the Central Tablelands Water network at Carcoar.
In an emergency, the water could then be pumped from Carcoar to Orange by the recently completed Orange to Carcoar pipeline, which has the capacity to deliver up to five megalitres a day to the city.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Cr West said it is imperative that scoping studies are undertaken to identify the risks involved in using these pipelines.
"The Macquarie Valley component of the funding announcement includes $5.5 million to 'partner with Orange City Council to plan for and deliver critical drought initiatives for their community such as pumping stations to enable the use of the Cowra to Orange pipeline,'" he said.
"Cowra has always been at the forefront of collegiate discussions around the use of pipelines in the region for communities that are in critical need of urban water in times of drought and we will continue to do so.
"The opportunities around connectivity via pipelines can be compelling in critical and exceptional circumstances.
"Wyangala Dam's capacity in this drought and the impact on the Lachlan Valley communities must be carefully considered."
Earlier this week, Orange mayor Reg Kidd stated that a one-way pipeline "already exists" and the funding would be used to make it two-way, however Cr West refuted these claims.
"There is no pipeline from Orange to Cowra, but there is a two-way emergency water pipeline running approximately 32 kilometres from Cowra to Woodstock and then on to connect to the Central Tablelands Water supply," Cr West said.
"We are aware of a connection from Central Tablelands Water to Orange, but its status is unknown to Cowra."
Pending approvals, the project could be operating within 12 months.
Staff from Orange and Cowra council and Central Tablelands Water will meet on Thursday to start preliminary planning for the project.