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Menindee plan not finalised

Thursday, 11th October, 2018

By Craig Brealey

The proposal to reconfigure the Menindee Lakes was not the final plan and the public would be well consulted before that was set, according to the NSW Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair.

This week the BDT published an independent assessment of the “Menindee Lakes Project” that found it lacked important detail and offered little evidence of community consultation.

The report, by international technical service company, Jacobs Engineering, also stated that it did not stack up environmentally or economically and that “cursory regard” had been given to its impact on people in Menindee or on the Lower Darling River. 

Jacobs was commissioned by the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to report on the proposal that was presented by the NSW Government and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Given such findings by Jacobs, Mr Blair was asked to explain how it could still be used to justify the project.

But a spokeswoman from his office told the BDT yesterday that the “business case” that Jacobs reviewed was only a preliminary plan.

“The Menindee Lakes Water Saving Project is at concept stage and there is a significant amount of work to do before the business case can be finalised,” she said.

“What was presented to the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources was a proposal in the form of a preliminary business case rather than a full final business case.”

The spokeswoman said the aim of the project was to “enhance the significant natural and cultural values of the Menindee Lakes while delivering on the NSW Government’s commitment to adjust the sustainable diversion limit under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by reducing evaporative losses from the lakes.

“The proposal was to deliver water efficiency savings, better river operations, and improved environmental outcomes,” she said. 

“All proposed infrastructure works and measures will be subject to comprehensive assessments along with extensive community and stakeholder engagement.”

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