CEO re­futes ‘Day Zero’ wa­ter claims

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By YVETTE AUBUSSON-FO­LEY

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.

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