Two local housing estates could run out of water because the New South Wales Government is expected to reject their calls for help.
It has refused to allow Edward River Council to transfer water from its reserves to two sporting facilities, and the same response is anticipated despite households running dry.
The government’s decision is based on a rule around the level of Lake Menindee and has been described as ‘‘ridiculous’’ by those affected.
The impacted houses are at Riverview Estate in Deniliquin’s south-west, and Cooinda Estate in the south-east.
They are running out of water because each has a general security allocation, which remains on zero despite huge quantities of water being poured down the system to South Australia.
Residents took their concerns to Edward River Council, which had excess water and agreed it could be transferred. Only a small amount of the excess was required.
But the government’s Office of Water is unlikely to permit the transfer.
General manager Adam McSwain and Mayor Norm Brennan travelled to Sydney late last month to explain the situation to OoW bureaucrats, hoping for a change of mind.
‘‘The Office of Water currently does not allow councils to transfer water until Menindee Lakes gets to a certain level,’’ Mr McSwain explained.
So under present rules the council could pour the water down the drain and that’s okay, but transferring to residents or sporting clubs is not allowed.
Transfer requests for Deniliquin Golf Club and the Deniliquin racecourse reserve have already been rejected by the State Government because of rules under the Water Sharing Plan.
ERC believes it has found a solution for Deniliquin Golf Club through a water access licence process.
Mr McSwain said the request from housing estates had not been formally submitted to the Minister, but expects the same response as to other requests.
‘‘We have already supplied some filtered water to the golf club’s dam a few weeks ago as a short-term measure. Through Water New South Wales we have now been able to attach a zero share component water access licence to the Deniliquin Golf Club pump for a local water utility. This allows us to transfer water to the water access licence locally.
‘‘Council will continue to work with other affected groups to try and find any local solutions possible. We don’t believe the golf club solution will work for other groups, but we will endeavour to find a solution.’’
The Riverview Estate Community Association has asked for a temporary transfer of 100 megalitres for stock and domestic supply for use up to June 30, 2019.
The estate comprises 52 holdings which have adopted self-imposed water restrictions in response to the zero per cent general security allocations.
The Lawson Water Supply Company Pty Ltd has requested a temporary transfer of 35ML to the Lawson Water Supply — which supplies to the Cooinda subdivision — via Murray irrigation.
Neither estate is connected to the town water system and is entirely dependent of allocations to have water for their properties.
Most properties in both estates lack suitable storage facilities to take advantage of council’s current offer of up to 30,000 litres free water per residence.
The total requested from both estates is 135ML, and council has up to 2000ML which could be available for transfer.
Riverview Estate Community Association manager Lester Wheatley said without access to council water, residents will be forced to buy water on the open market just to operate the plumbing services at their home.
With water trading in excess of $400 a megalitre this week, he said it was a ‘‘totally ridiculous situation’’.
‘‘For a community independent of the town water supply to be denied a request like this is ridiculous,’’ Mr Wheatley said.
‘‘It’s not as if the council is being asked to supply water to someone other than its ratepayers.
‘‘Stock and domestic water is needed for home plumbing, for other domestic purposes and for our gardens.
‘‘The residents have already invoked their own restrictions — no gardens, pools or ornamental lakes — and the next step will go to odds and evens watering if there is no improvement.
‘‘The arrangement with council is a matter of last resort in this case.
‘‘It’s plainly a ridiculous situation the council has been put in and something has to be done about it.’’
Deniliquin Golf Club manager Norm Purtill said council’s solution is a relief, saying if the effort to get more water had fallen through it may have meant the club had to ‘‘hand in the keys’’.
‘‘If there’s no water, there’s no golf course,’’ Mr Purtill said.
‘‘Our last resort was to go to the market, but that would cost about $60,000 to $70,000 and we feel that money would be better spent on improvements.’’
Mr Wheatley said an additional disadvantage of being forced onto the open water market would be the reduction of the consumptive pool for food and fibre production, which is already restricted due to water sharing rules impacting on general security allocations.
NSW Member for Murray Austin Evans, who was only advised of the issue with the housing estates last week, said the situation highlights we must ‘‘go back through the logic’’ of the Water Sharing Plans.
‘‘It (the WSP) should always be up for review, and we need to check these things,’’ Mr Evans said.
‘‘I do understand where they are coming from with the rules though — town water is always a priority and if we don’t get much more rain between now and this time next year that is all the water the town has.’’