Thursday, 25th September, 2014
By Andrew Robertson
City Council will express its opposition to a State Government plan to secure an underground emergency water supply for Broken Hill.
Water Minister Kevin Humphries earlier this month said the government would spend $5 million sinking 12 bores near Sunset Strip.
He said the dwindling supply in the Menindee Lakes prompted the move but added the groundwater would only be for emergency backup and would not replace the lakes as the city's supply.
But councillor Darriea Turley last night said there had been "no discussion" with Council or the community about using groundwater.
"Why should we accept this as a normal process?" Cr Turley said.
"Why is it that we are the only town that are looking at this process for a supply (measure)?"
Her motion that Council reject the view that underground water can be used to "undermine" the city's right to surface storage was supported by every councillor at last night's ordinary meeting.
Council will also write to the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to voice its concern over the "excessive and unnecessary" release of water from the Menindee Lakes earlier this year.
The lakes were more than half full at the beginning of the year but levels are now so low residents have been warned they will be forced onto water restrictions next month for the first time in a decade.
"We need to make sure we have the right to a surface storage area but more importantly we need to go back to the MDBA and say 'stop releasing our water'," Cr Turley said after the meeting.
She said there was much concern around the quality of the underground water and who would pay to have it brought up to an acceptable level.
"Nobody has any idea about the science behind this process.
"We already know that samples have been taken before and the samples have proven that the water is saltier than sea water."
Mayor Wincen Cuy said the solution may be to increase the amount of water that has to be held in the lakes for Broken Hill or the point at which NSW resumes control of the lakes.
He also said the city shouldn't be too hasty in rejecting the groundwater solution because "it could two years before we actually get water".
"So I think we need to be careful that we don't stop the process of trying to get water to Broken Hill whilst we're in this (situation), but it (groundwater) shouldn't be our primary supply of water."