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Wentworth Council rejects lakes plan

Thursday, 13th September, 2018

By Emily Roberts

Wentworth Shire Council says it wants at least 800 gigalitres of water kept in the Menindee Lakes.

The council has also rejected the NSW Government’s plan for pipelines from the Murray River at Wentworth to Pooncarie and Menindee.

Landholders on the Lower Darling recently told the government they did not want the river replaced by pipes either.

The pipelines are among the NSW Department of Primary Industry’s six options to supply towns, homes and farms along the Lower Darling with water. Among them are a plan to drastically reduce the lakes’ reserve capacity.

This prompted the council to call for minimum flow targets to be set along the length of the Darling River.

Wentworth Shire Council’s deputy mayor, Tim Elstone, told the BDT yesterday that the submission came from all the concern within the river town community.

“It’s important to keep Pamamaroo and Wetherell as full as we can,” Clr Elstone said, “rather than allowing it to go down to the drought reserve they have proposed.”

Clr Elstone said the council did not expect to hear back from the DPI for a while.

“Like everyone else, we hope we are being heard and listened to,” he said.

“Keeping 800 gigalitres in the Menindee Lakes system would ensure longevity.

“We need to ensure flows and that the system will continue to hold water once it receives water.

“It is better for the environment, the Lower Darling and the people along it.”

A preliminary business case from the DPI indicated the Menindee Lakes reserve would be dropped to 80GL. The current reserve is 480GL.

As well as an 800GL reserve, Wentworth Council would like to see more flows down the Darling Anabranch, the public reporting of water quality for townships and the government to enter into water and land management agreements with Aboriginal people.

The council has also asked the government to restore the Pooncarie Weir.

“We need to ensure the survival of the river systems and the residents in towns like Pooncarie and Menindee.”

Clr Elstone said the plan to maintain the river systems was not working.

“The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was put in place to look after the environment and it has not done a good job.

“We need to protect the Darling River and Lakes system.”

Three of the options being assessed by an overseas consultancy firm, Deloitte, involve construction of new pipelines to supply towns, farms and homes along the Lower Darling.

The other options involve construction of small weirs, more on-farm water storage and scaling down the Menindee Lakes’ water reserve.

The DPI is also meeting with towns to seek input on the proposed irrigation metering framework under the NSW Water Reform Action Plan.

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