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Pipeline tab: We’ll pay it

Saturday, 13th October, 2018

Regional Water Minister Niall Blair with the last pipe of the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline. PICTURE: Emily Roberts Regional Water Minister Niall Blair with the last pipe of the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline. PICTURE: Emily Roberts

By Emily Roberts

Broken Hill has now been “drought-proofed” as the final piece of the pipeline was laid yesterday at the Mica Street Water Treatment Plant.

NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair, Water NSW CEO David Harriss, project co-ordinators and workers were in attendance.

“This is huge for Broken Hill and the surrounding community,” Minister Blair said.

“We can certainly say that we have secured Broken Hill’s future.

“This has been a huge effort by everyone involved and a huge injection into the community, not just during the construction phase but also into the future.”

Minister Blair said, as well as securing the long-term viability for the city, the NSW Government yesterday announced they would absorb the cost of construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline.

“What we’re saying is that water prices won’t increase in Broken Hill as a result of this project,” he said.

“We stumped up the money to build it, we’re also going to cover the costs for the community in relation to the operation.

“So when IPART hands down it’s determination for water prices for 2019-2023, this project won’t increase water prices in Broken Hill.”

When asked what would happen after that period, Minister Blair said it was a fair way down the track.

“That’s four years away, my good friend Andrew Schier (Nationals’ candidate for the Barwon electorate) will certainly be advocating on behalf of the Broken Hill community, the next time water prices are looked at,” he said.

“But, we don’t need to worry about that now because we’ve stepped up and said we were going to take care of it.

“We’ve delivered answers and tangible results, we’ve delivered the funding and now we are also covering the cost.”

The next step of the project will see the construction of pump sites.

“What we’ll see from here are a number of pump sites that need to be built and then we will see the commissioning stage of the pipeline.

“We’re hoping to see what comes out of these pipes by the end of the year and we’re hoping to see that water then delivered around April 2019.

“This has been a huge effort, 22,000 pieces of pipe over 270 kilometres, hundreds of workers and millions of dollars injected into the local community.

“It’s fantastic to stand here today and see those last few pieces of pipe being connected.”

Minister Blair said the government would now turn its attention to Menindee Lakes and the surrounding region.

“We have Deloittes looking at the options for the Lower Darling, we’ve got money from Canberra and the business case to address the Menindee Lakes - we’re doing it all,” he said.

“We didn’t have the time, this community didn’t have the time, to sit around and wait for a decision.

“This community was facing the prospect of running out of water next year.

“We’ve not only said we would do it, we’ve funded it and we’ve built it.

“It’s all very well for people to sit back and want to be critical but those people have not offered any solutions, they’ve offered no money and we’ve done it all.

“We’ve said that we would do it, we’ve done it and now we are going to operate it.”

Minister Blair said piping the water from the Murray won’t impact communities in that region.

“We will have a water allocation out of the Murray River, this is within the operating rules with water sharing agreements in NSW.

“There is no impact that this will have, that is going to be detrimental to the operation of the Murray system.

“Water flows down the Darling and ends up in the Murray, this is taking water off the down side of where the Darling comes in.

“There is no impact here.”

Minister Blair said they couldn’t sit around and wait for rain as others wanted.

“I travelled out to this community, I travelled out to Menindee Lakes, I stood on the dry bed of Menindee Lakes,” he said.

“I looked at the bores we had put in, I addressed the public meeting, I met with the protesters.

“But we had to make a decision, if we hadn’t made that decision, if we had put all our eggs in the basket of praying for rain like others had.

“Then this community, in the coming months, would have been facing a pretty dire situation.”

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