The New South Wales Government has announced investments totaling $6.2 million to boost drought resilience and water security in the face of the drying conditions across the Central Tablelands.
The investments include:
- $5.5 million to connect Cowra and the Central Tablelands Water systems, so the region can share water when supplies hit critically low levels
- $150,000 to help Central Tablelands Water bring plans to upgrade the backbone of its water mains network to the tender-ready stage
- $577,500 for Cabonne Shire Council to accelerate important investigative works that will determine the best infrastructure options to help future proof water for its residents
The Cowra to Central Tablelands project is the missing piece in the network, installing new infrastructure including a pump station at Woodstock, a 12ML reservoir at Carcoar Water Treatment Plant and upgrading the inlet system at Cowra to better connect the region’s water systems.
It will be a game changer during severe droughts, allowing water to be transferred from Cowra to western towns like Canowindra and Grenfell while ensuring Orange can also share its resources via existing pipelines.
The upgrade, which is expected to be completed before the end of 2023, also gives the Carcoar Water Treatment Plant the capacity to treat and pump up to 5ML of water per day from Lake Rowlands to Orange.
New South Wales Minister for Water, Rose Jackson, said, “Each of these investments will help deliver a stronger, more secure water future for the Central Tablelands and surrounds.
“The last drought put town water supplies across this region under enormous pressure and was the major wakeup call we all needed to work together to put the right infrastructure in place to manage a changing climate.
“With drier conditions already impacting the region, it’s a relief to know the Cowra to Central Tablelands project will be completed by the end of 2023 so the region has greater flexibility to send water where it is needed the most,” Ms Jackson said.
Cabonne Council Mayor and Chair of Central West Joint Organisation, Kevin Beatty, said, “With Cabonne already seeing the transition to drier weather, water security is very much front of mind which is why we are investigating a range of options to address our long-term water challenges.
“The funding from the New South Wales Government is a big help and will enable us to look more closely at ways to improve the way we manage our water resources. Council is investigating pipelines links between Manildra, and Molong and completing the Orange–Molong link,” Mr Beatty said.
Central Tablelands Water Chair, David Somervaille, said, “Building new infrastructure to deliver better water security for the Central Tablelands ahead of the next El Nino was a no-brainer which is why it’s great to see the project reaching the finishing line.
“This has been a massive joint effort at the grassroots level with Orange, Cowra and Central Tablelands Water working in partnership with the New South Wales Government to get the job done and enable us to be more drought-ready than ever before.
“The new funding from the government will also help us finalise the groundwork to upgrade 80km of cast iron pipes, which are the make or break of our water system for Carcoar, Mandurama, Lyndhurst, Canowindra, Cudal, Cargo, Manildra, Eugowra and Grenfell,” Mr Somervaille said.
Orange Mayor, Jason Hamling, said, “Because our dams are full, Orange is currently in a good position going into the summer ahead, but now we need to look after every drop.
“The new network of connecting pipelines funded by the New South Wales Government gets us ready ahead of time for the next drought. It delivers the regional water infrastructure we need to connect major storage dams with communities across the region.
“Working in partnership with Cowra Shire Council, Central Tablelands Water and the state government means we can have the pipelines, pump stations and reservoirs we need to ensure we can assist each other when the going gets tough,” Mr Hamling said.
Cowra Mayor, Ruth Fagan, said, “The Cowra to Central Tablelands project has been a huge, combined effort over many years from planning to completion, so it’s terrific to reach this major milestone.
“It also shows what you can achieve when neighbouring councils work side-by-side in conjunction with the New South Wales Government to improve water security outcomes for local communities,” Ms Fagan said.
Featured image: The new reservoir at Carcoar. Courtesy of NSW Water.