Dubbo Water Crisis: Council to join Orana Joint Organisation to advocate for pipeline

The proposed pipeline would start at Burrendong Dam and mayor Ben Shields said councils would need to work together to make it a reality. Photo: AMY McINTYRE
The proposed pipeline would start at Burrendong Dam and mayor Ben Shields said councils would need to work together to make it a reality. Photo: AMY McINTYRE

Dubbo Regional Council will join forces with neighbouring areas to advocate for water infrastructure.

Dubbo council has backpedalled on the decision to stay out of the Orana Joint Organisation.

In March last year, Dubbo decided not to join forces with Gilgandra, Narromine, Warren, Bogan, Warrumbungle and Mid Western Regional councils. At the time, Dubbo Regional Council was concerned about the cost of joining the organisation.

But, mayor Ben Shields has pushed for Dubbo to reconsider.

"We do know that we are in the most unprecedented drought in the history of this country, or at least since white settlement. We need to make sure that water is continually available and it is viable for consumption for our population. The best way we can do that is to form an alliance with our councils downstream of the Macquarie River," Cr Shields said.

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In a letter to the council, NSW Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock said she would "strongly encourage" Dubbo's membership in the Orana JO.

"I understand there has been some concern on the part of Dubbo Regional Council about the possibility of the member councils of the Orana JO to make decisions that may unduly penalise your council as the largest council in the region," she wrote.

However, Ms Hancock said in mid-2020 the government would evaluate the success of JOs and council would therefore have the opportunity to leave, if the Orana JO did not meet expectations.

Council has proposed a pipeline from Burrendog Dam to Wellington, and then on to Dubbo and further out west. There's a possibility it could go all the way to Cobar to supply towns with water.

"This crisis with water is a great opportunity for us to be as one voice when it comes to councils, particularly across the Macquarie valley, to lobby and argue for government assistance," Cr Shields said.

It's expected to cost $40 million for the pipeline to go from Burrendong Dam to Wellington and another $60 million for it to reach Dubbo.