CEO refutes ‘Day Zero’ water claims
DUBBO Regional Council’s CEO Michael Mcmahon this week issued a response to national media coverage regarding Dubbo’s so-called ‘Day Zero’, the estimated date that the city’s main source of water will run dry.
Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph and The Guardian were among the newspapers reporting on ‘Day Zero’ predictions on the number of days before our river systems run dry. “The first towns, including the major western city of Dubbo, will be dry in November unless there is major rainfall,” The Sunday Telegraph’s front page story said, quoting projections from Waternsw.
Mr Mcmahon refuted that claim: “Water modelling projections provided to Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) by the NSW Government predict a significant impact on the Macquarie River water supply from Burrendong Dam, the region’s main dam, by the end of the year without the Government taking immediate action.
“Based on that modelling, Waternsw has identified that the worst-case scenario of no inflows into the river system, the Macquarie River will hit ‘cease to flow’ in May 2020.
“DRC understands that the NSW Government’s water resilience initiatives include pumping water from deep storage within Burrendong Dam, bulk water transfer into Burrendong Dam from outlying dams, damming the Macquarie River downstream at Warren, and preserving the current water in the river for human consumption, high security licenses and ecological sustainability,” he said.
In response to the dire predictions from as early as late 2018, Dubbo Regional Council has been working since January 2019 on developing and further investigating a number of initiatives.
Mr Mcmahon said these include the expansion of current groundwater supplies, development of new groundwater sources, effluent re-use, which could be used initially as substitute water in lieu of potable water, or to enable Council to access additional groundwater, and ultimately for use in a Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) scheme. Other options include stormwater harvesting and re-use of backwash water at the water filtration plants and interconnecting pipelines between new water sources between Dubbo and Wellington.
Groundwater (bore) options have been identified in conjunction with the Department of Primary Industries and Environment.
“In the early 2000s Council agreed to a voluntary 50 per cent reduction in its groundwater (bore) use to reduce overall demand on the aquifer, an approach which has effectively remained in place ever since. The need now exists for Council to increase its groundwater extraction at least to the level of its actual entitlement,” Mr Mcmahon said.
Council is also looking at actively seeking to acquire additional entitlements from existing active license holders.
“Wellington currently has very limited groundwater, with an entitlement of 350 ML/A on a bore which is currently not operating at Montefiores. Therefore, due to its full reliance on river supply currently, there is an urgent need to develop additional water sources for Wellington,” Mr Mcmahon said.
Waternsw was contacted to comment on this story.