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White Cliffs water drama

Friday, 20th September, 2019

By Callum Marshall

The use of a White Cliffs storage tank has divided opinion in the town, with one resident sending a petition to the local council to leave its water for recreational use while another backs plans to use water from it to help bitumise local roads. 

With Central Darling Shire Council planning to commence roadworks at Mandalay Road, between Keraro Road and Common Grid, in several weeks’ time, the Shire has said water for the works “will be sourced from the Council depot dam and Pear Tank.”

Potential Pear Tank water use has angered local Linda George however, with the former President of the local Tourist Association organising and sending off a petition to council to leave the water alone for recreational use.

At the time of writing, the petition had 27 signatures.

Ms George said she hopeful of getting at least five more signatures which, if achieved, would equate to just under a third of the town’s population.

She said a group of residents used Pear Tank every day in the summer for swimming, and as a recreational spot to walk the dogs and socialise.

The water was also used for firefighting, she said, and was the only source of water in the area for wildlife to drink. 

“And Council want to put it on roads,” she said, “and we’re in the middle of a very severe drought.

“It’s actually a miracle that we have water here at all and you certainly don’t waste it on roads, in my opinion.”

A local station had also offered their tank water instead, she said.

She said her petition and a counter-petition had “made a really nasty split in the town as a result.”

However, local Dick Wagner, who runs a number of businesses in town, said the “overwhelming majority” supported council’s plans, with the local Miners Association and Tourist Association sending letters to council supporting the sealing works.

“And as soon as the sporting club have their next meeting, they most certainly will be sending off a letter to the Shire asking them to use water out of Pear Tank,” he said.

He said bitumised roads were badly needed.

Mr Wagner said he was surprised people used Pear Tank recreationally and for swimming given supposed water quality concerns out there.

Council’s Director of Shire Services, Reece Wilson, said they’d taken the community’s concerns on board and that those concerns would be one aspect council considered when it decides whether the works will go ahead at next week’s council meeting.

“I’ve prepared a report to Council and I’ve put that in the business papers, so Council will consider the matter at the council meeting Wednesday next week,” he said.

“And they’ll either go ahead with the works and seal the road, or they won’t.

“(Those works are) programmed to start in a fortnight.”

He said not much water would be taken from Pear Tank.

“If we haven’t got the water to do the job I can’t do it,” said Mr Wilson.

“And if they chose to do the work, well we’ll have to source the water from Pear Tank.”

Mr Wilson said any suggestion that more water had been taken from Pear Tank than promised the last time they used it was wrong.

“We did use water from Pear Tank for the last sealing job, because obviously we can’t use town water supply because of the drought conditions.

“(But) we took less than 300 millimetres last time I sealed that street.

“(Those against the water being taken) might think we’re going to empty the tank, but we’re not.”

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