BATHURST has spent years trying to salvage every drop of water it can, but it was powerless to stop three years worth of water falling over the Chifley Dam spillway this week.
With significant inflows and rain, an already-full Chifley Dam lost 5000 megalitres of water over the spillway daily from Monday through to Wednesday.
To put that into perspective, Bathurst used 4500ML of water in 2020 while still under water restrictions, and in a typical year would use 6500ML.
The reality of what was lost has led councillor Warren Aubin to renew his calls for the dam wall to be raised for a second time.
"We've lost probably two or three years' worth of water," he said.
"... It just goes to show that raising our dam wall should have to be a priority."
The dam wall was raised close to 20 years ago, with the works officially opened in February 2002.
As a result of the upgrade, the capacity of the storage was increased from 16,000ML to 30,800ML.
To achieve that, the wall was raised by 5.4 metres and the spillway was extended by 30 metres.
Cr Aubin said that if the wall was raised by about two metres, it would nearly double the capacity of Chifley Dam.
While he knows it would not be a cheap project, he believes it would be well worth the expense to ensure Bathurst never has to face the situation it did just 12 months ago, when the dam was sitting at below 30 per cent.
"It doesn't come without its problems, because raising the dam wall means that all the landholders that front the dam are going to lose land, so there's got to be a buy up of land around the dam area," Cr Aubin said.
"Plus, the spillway is not big enough, so the spillway would have to be re-engineered and made bigger, but in saying that, a $200 million project, isn't it worth it, $200 million to drought-proof the city?
"It's a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned."
Council is currently working on several projects to help extend the life of Bathurst's water supply, including a stormwater harvesting scheme.
While it's an idea that Cr Aubin had championed and is excited about, he thinks more needs to be done.
"It's not a bad thing, but it's nowhere near being able to double the capacity of our dam," he said.
"The water security for our region, we really, really, really need to be looking ultra seriously at getting this dam wall raised again. It's something we really need to be pushing the authorities to allow us to do it."
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