A SECOND raising of the Ben Chifley Dam wall to boost the Bathurst region's water security has been discounted by mayor Bobby Bourke.
The first raising of the dam wall in 2000 doubled the capacity of the region's main water storage at The Lagoon to around 30,000 megalitres, and a number of proposals have been put forward over the past 20 years to raise it again.
But as water this week flowed over the dam's spillway for the first time in almost four years, Cr Bourke said he believed other water security measures were now taking precedent.
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Bathurst Regional council has teamed with the state government on $25 million worth of local water security projects, including establishing a stormwater harvesting scheme and improvements to Winburndale Dam.
And Cr Bourke said there were other options to explore before considering raising the dam wall again.
"I think our water security is a lot better than most regional towns," Cr Bourke said.
"[Outside of Bathurst] we have Wyangala Dam being strengthened and heightened and that will give a bit more security to the Central West for water ... and I can see in the future a lot of these pipelines will come out of Wyangala and maybe out of here [Chifley Dam]," he said.
"I can't see the wall ever being any higher here; I think it's the way we control the water in it.
I think our water security is a lot better than most regional towns.Bathurst mayor Bobby Bourke
"A pipeline coming out of here will reduce evaporation and leakage and that's the next plan I can see, from a council point of view."
Cr Bourke said the COVID-19 pandemic had prompted a new rush of people looking to make a tree change from the major cities and Bathurst's proximity to Sydney made the region an attractive option.
But he said boosting the region's water security would play a major role in ensuring Bathurst could cope with continued growth.
"The studies show that more people will come to Bathurst and you can see it now through COVID-19," he said.
"People will be doing things differently once this pandemic is over and Bathurst needs to take advantage of it.
"Businesses are struggling here now and we need a growing community to support those businesses.
"And as our population grows I can only see better facilities for the region; [city people] just don't realise the great facilities we have."
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