New dams need bill to pass
THE urgent call for new dams for NSW by Water Minister Melinda Pavey may not pass through Parliament if the debate stalls on shortcuts needed to environmental protection measures to reduce planning periods.
Consequently, Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders issued a media statement last week encouraging locals to visit the ‘Build the Dams’ website and tell Parliament it’s what they want.
“If we are to ensure we have greater water storage capacity for the next drought, we must have these dams built before the next rainfall event. The dams must be built now,” Mr Saunders said.
Declared emergency drought works for NSW include the Macquarie River to Orange Pipeline and the Burrendong Dam deep storage works. They will be facilitated by the legislation which will also potentially fast track the construction across regional NSW.
In a turnaround for the NSW Government the new dams follow decades of ignored warnings including the NSW Ombudsman’s 2017 report which revealed evidence of illegal dam building was buried by the government, and subsequently referred to ICAC.
In May 2018, the “Augmentation of water supply for rural and regional NSW portfolio report” presented to the Legislative Council recommended then “as a matter of urgency” that the NSW Government develop a comprehensive water equation for supply and demand in NSW “by March 2020, for the next 50 years”, which is five months time.
The new legislation will have effect for two years and can be extended by up to 12 months by the Minister for Water, where towns continue to experience severe drought risks.
The NSW Government is investing $130 million for emergency water infrastructure projects to protect over 180,000 residents of regional towns.