Water crisis: Wellington may be the first town to benefit from mooted pipeline

WESTERN TOWNS: Water for the future coordinator Chris Devitt reports of discussions around how far the proposed pipeline might travel into western NSW for towns dependent on river water. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

WESTERN TOWNS: Water for the future coordinator Chris Devitt reports of discussions around how far the proposed pipeline might travel into western NSW for towns dependent on river water. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

A $100 million pipeline from Burrendong Dam to Dubbo is being proposed as a long-term solution to keeping water flowing into the city.

Dubbo Regional Council's water for the future coordinator Chris Devitt has revealed the potential benefits of transporting water in a pipeline in severe drought or an emergency situation including disruption to town water supplies.

He has used the planned pumping of about 21 gigalitres of remnant storage water at the dam to highlight the efficiencies of a pipeline.

"If that's pumped out and put in the river that will add three months to the system," Mr Devitt said.

"If you could pump that out and put it in a pipeline it would go for two years because you use every drop of it."

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Mr Devitt, a consultant and the council's former director of infrastructure and operations, said extending the proposed pipeline to other western towns vulnerable because of their dependence on river water was being discussed.

"So part of the decision is if we are going to build that pipeline do we make it just big enough to do Wellington or do we make it big enough to go to Cobar," he said.

"That conversation needs to happen with government."

Part of our strategy is we've got to develop a number of projects all at once because we don't know which one will be the solution

Water for the future coordinator Chris Devitt

Mr Devitt advised that building the pipeline to Wellington was the "first phase" of the proposal because of the town's lack of bores and reliance on dam water which may run out mid-2020.

He said the council would look for bores at Wellington and undertake a "detailed assessment" of which route would best suit the 30-kilometre and $40 million pipeline from the dam to the town.

"So what we will look to do down there is investigate new bores but the same problems are there of over-allocated aquifers and competition for water," the consultant said.

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"..assuming the river stopped and there's still potentially water in Burrendong, a pipeline would be a solution.

"Part of our strategy is we've got to develop a number of projects all at once because we don't know which one will be the solution."

"If we just said 'Let's look for bores in Wellington' and six months later we didn't get any, we can't afford then to start the pipeline."

Continuing the pipeline to Dubbo would be the second phase of the proposed project at a further cost of $60 million.

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Mr Devitt said there was momentum in NSW to help communities "build resilience" for future droughts.

He said the desalination plant in Sydney was its "insurance policy" as could be the pipeline for Western NSW communities.

"If the drought breaks tomorrow and all of this gets forgotten, we're back in 10 years saying we should have done this 10 years ago," the consultant said.