Saturday, 6th September, 2014
By Craig Brealey
The bores to be sunk by Lake Menindee were only to find water for Broken Hill in an emergency and were in no way part of a plan to replace the lakes as the city’s main supply, the NSW Minister for Natural Resources and Water, Kevin Humphries, said yesterday.
“Absolutely not,” said the Minister.
“It is obviously just a back-up for when the lakes’ storage starts to run out,” Mr Humphries told the BDT.
“Broken Hill’s supply issues have got to be the main priority,” he said.
“It’s not about relying less on the Menindee Lakes but more about the security of supply.”
The Minister was in the city after visiting Menindee to announce that the NSW Government would spend $5 million to sink 12 bores near Sunset Strip.
He said the bores had nothing to do with other long-running plans to reconfigure the lakes to make them more efficient, nor with a previous Federal Government proposal to establish a permanent supply underground rather than in the lakes.
“This is purely about Broken Hill’s water supply. If it doesn’t work we’ll be going back to the lakes for the solution,” Mr Humphries said.
The lakes system is about four-fifths empty and he said the NSW Government was trying to find a back-up supply for Broken Hill for whenever drought hit.
“Come March, if there are no more inflows we’ll be back into a pretty serious situation,” he said.
“If there’s no rain in the next 12 months, we’ll be back to pumping dead water.”
The first six bores will be sunk, probably by December, Mr Humphries said.
“We’ll run them flat out and if they work, we will move toward connecting them to the pipeline.”
It was not known how much water the aquifer held, he said, and another purpose of sinking the bores was to calculate that and to test the quality of the water.
“Science has got to take over from speculation,” he said.
But the whole enterprise rested on whether the water was potable.
“If it’s too bad, we won’t do it,” Mr Humphries said.
If it is fair, then he said that hooking it up to the pipeline and treating it would cost about $20 million.
Another purpose of the Minister’s visit to Menindee yesterday was to talk with the Tandou agricultural company about its water supply.
“Tandou has to stay viable,” he said. “It is the biggest employer in the area.”