BATHURST Regional Council will need to focus on medium to long term measures to increase water security for the city after more immediate plans fell through.
The NSW Government has informed council that it won't support the purchase of a water allocation from the Oberon Dam and Fish River Scheme, which council was hoping to do to provide an additional water source for the town supply.
The solution was knocked back as the water from Oberon Dam and the Fish River scheme is unlikely to have a supply surplus that could be made available to Bathurst.
"Council has been advised that this water would be required to meet the critical supply needs for other customers including the Blue Mountains," mayor Bobby Bourke said.
"The Fish River Scheme option was just one of council's suite of water security options and, while it would have given council access to additional water for this summer, our precautionary approach with the early introduction of water restrictions has helped keep Chifley Dam at more than 46 per cent capacity going into the warmer weather."
The news comes after councillor Jess Jennings attended a two-day water forum in Sydney, where he had hoped to make "a last ditch effort" to lobby Minister for Water Melinda Pavey to support council's requests.
On Friday, he said it was "disappointing, bordering on tragic news" for the farming community that the water allocation could not be relied upon.
Cr Jennings said that council's staff have done an excellent job in trying to find solutions, but there wasn't enough political pressure applied to the state government by the current and former mayor.
The next step for Bathurst is the move to level four-five water restrictions on October 14, which will give council more time to implement alternate water saving solutions.
Cr Bourke, with the assistance of Member for Bathurst Paul Toole, has arranged a meeting with Ms Pavey for the end of the month to further discuss Bathurst's water situation.
The State has previously pledged $2 million for council to investigate medium to long term solutions including storm water harvesting.
To date, council has commissioned a range of studies/consultancies as part of its water security projects, funded from the grant. They include:
- Winburndale Dam pipeline duplication investigation
- Drought management plan background studies and review
- Investigate stormwater harvesting options
- Economic modelling to inform discussions with the State Government on the economic benefit of investment in improved water security infrastructure
- Technical investigations for treatment of Winburndale Dam water for use in the town water supply
- Bore water/groundwater investigations
- Water efficiency audits for the 26 largest water users connected to the town water supply