Mayor denies Cowra will run out of water by March 2020

Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West has described a forecast released by WaterNSW, which states Cowra will run out of water in six months' time, as "very disappointing".

Projections made by WaterNSW and reported in national publications state a number of rivers and dams across the state are forecast to dry up between November this year and March 2021.

According to WaterNSW, the worst-case scenario is the Lachlan River, which supplies water to Cowra, Parkes and Forbes, will run out of water by March 2020 if long-range forecasts are correct and there is no significant rain events in the foreseeable future.

However Cr West says Cowra Council has not received any notification from WaterNSW regarding the matter and the information released by WaterNSW to the media is contrary to the NSW Government Water Allocation Statement of August 2019 which indicates water will still be available to Cowra for urban, domestic and stock use through Wyangala Dam.

"The fact that we are going to run out of water in six months is not correct," Cr West said.

"My understanding is the dam will get to a level where it will be severely restricted but there will be an allowance for urban water supply beyond that.

"So when they say the dam is empty I think that means empty for irrigation as opposed to no water at all.

"During the Millenium Drought in the 2000s, Wyangala Dam reached four per cent, and Cowra was still able to access water."

Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West

Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West

Cr West acknowledged that while areas such as Dubbo, Cobar and Narromine may face a water crisis towards the end of this year, if Wyangala Dam is managed properly, Cowra will have a secure supply for some time yet.

"I am very much aware of the issues in many parts of the state. I don't think we are at a critical stage yet but we are at a point where we need to be very, very aware of any inflows," Cr West said.

While there are no plans to enforce water restrictions at this stage, Cr West said council will act on advice from WaterNSW.

"We will react immediately when we have information from WaterNSW as opposed to announcements in metropolitan media," Cr West said.

"I think it needs to be pointed out... we have a licence, an allocation, and that allocation and that licence is determined by restrictions that can be placed upon us by WaterNSW, they are the authority, and they own the water.

"So when they tell us how much water we are going to get, we will implement restrictions accordingly to the water that's been allocated.

"The triggers (for water restrictions) in Cowra Council's Drought Management Plan start when Council's surface water allocation is reduced to 60 per cent. At the present time the allocation remains at 100 per cent.

"We will continue to monitor levels very closely and will certainly react immediately when needed," Cr West said.

Wyangala Dam sits at 23.6 per cent at the time of publication.

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