Water supply sparks debate between councillors

Cowra councillors have welcomed funding to raise the dam wall, but have raised concerns about other water supply issues. Photo Google Earth.
Cowra councillors have welcomed funding to raise the dam wall, but have raised concerns about other water supply issues. Photo Google Earth.

A mayoral report into the inaugural meeting of the Lachlan Valley Councils - Water Supply Executive Group has sparked debate between Cowra councillors.

Senior representatives of Lachlan Valley Councils met earlier this month to align their thinking on current water supply issues.

The meeting between Cowra Council, Forbes Council, Parkes Council and Lachlan Council resulted in the formation of the group.

Councillor Bill West said the group was unanimous in its support of the recent funding announcement made by the Federal and NSW State Governments to provide $650 million to raise the Wyangala Dam wall by 10 metres and increase its capacity by 650 gigalitres.

"We all recognise that while the Wyangala supply, which is currently just under 20 per cent, provides a solid base heading into the summer period, the need for critical infrastructure upgrading is vital to Cowra and regional growth," Cr West said.

Councillor Ray Walsh echoed Cr West's sentiments, highlighting the economic benefits of the project.

"I strongly applaud us congratulating the governments for dam increase...[the] business that will eventually bring," he said.

While most councillors were in agreement over the raising of the dam, some had reservations about the group and other water supply options.

Councillor Peter Wright said he had concerns about the potential for standardised water restrictions.

"It will be pretty hard for us if we feel we don't need to bring restrictions in," Cr Wright said.

Councillor Bruce Miller also stressed the need for more discussion before the implementation of water restrictions.

"Last time we had water restrictions... we bowed to public pressure and what happened? Water usage went up," he said.

"Discussions need to continue."

In response to a discussion on the Orange to Cowra pipeline, Cr Miller said council should be exploring other options.

"We should not even enter into a discussion about that... there's no guarantee of water security," he said.

Cr West reiterated that Cowra had an adequate water supply, with WaterNSW working off a "zero inflows" model and still supplying 100 per cent allocation of water to council.

He also noted that water usage in Cowra is down 20 per cent compared to the previous year.

"Nobody knows if it's going to rain, the best thing we can do is implement strategies to secure a water supply for the future," Cr West said.

"Our community has already rolled up its sleeves.. the terminology needs to be positive, we are still open for business."

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