Dubbo Photo News May 23-29, 2019
Dubbo Photo News’s independent reporting on and analysis of Dubbo Regional Council activities
Gumley leads council to water plan By YVETTE AUBUSSON-FOLEY DUBBO Regional Mayor Ben Shields announced this week he would seek to introduce Level 2 water restrictions across the local government area “as a proactive response to the ongoing drought”. Councillor Dayne Gumley has pointed the finger of blame firmly at the State Government that the mayor had to seek such a Council endorsement for water restrictions for Dubbo. “I don’t disagree that we as a community need to be careful with the resource that we have, and we should be looking at conserving it, but I think the State Government has got a bit of a hide telling one of their clients – which is effectively what [Dubbo Regional Council] is – that we should take a leadership role in terms of conserving water that’s coming out of Burrendong Dam,” Cr Gumley told Dubbo Photo News. “It is in fact the State Government that is cast with managing that water, and so far they’ve done nothing, other than tell us that the dam is starting to dry out.” His comments follow a media statement by Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders who allegedly said it’s not the State Government’s role to tell a Council to limit water use as a nearby dam approaches empty. Cr Gumley says the State Government should lead the way in conserving the water they are supposed to be managing. “In the scheme of things, the townships use bugger all water in terms of what is released from the dam, and yet for some reason the first thing our local member has come up with is telling those who use the least water to use less,” he said. “They’re the ones that are in control of the Big Tap, so in my
view it really ultimately falls to the State Government first and foremost to be the leaders in conserving water and making sure that the dam, and all of our water infrastructure, is adequate, rather than the Dubbo Regional Council area community.” Water NSW spokesman Tony Webber said access and availability has been restricted over the past 12 to 18 months and inflows have hit record lows. “We’ve met with significant users such as the zoo, the abattoir, mines, also at Cobar, to talk about the next phase of the drought management plan, and that could include a restriction on high security water. “That decision will ultimately be made by government but we will be providing advice into that decision making process with some expectation that high security water will now follow other categories and be restricted as well. “The impacts of the very severe drought conditions experienced for years off and on in Northern NSW are making themselves felt in the central west with regard to water security,” Mr Webber said. Cr Gumley wants Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) to also take steps toward long-term water security for the local government area. He has issued DRC CEO Michael McMahon a notice of motion requesting an existing and proposed water infrastructure report by June and a water security master plan, which previously has not existed, by September. “No matter what level of government, we seem to go through this cycle of all being surprised that we’re in a drought and dams are getting low. Every time it happens. “Certainly for our region it’s well overdue for us to start looking at big picture ideas about how we can secure our water
well into the future, and not have these last ditch attempts to conserve water only when we’re desperate for it,” Cr Gumley said. Mayor Shields agrees. “It’s a bit ridiculous we only talk about preserving water and water management in the middle of a drought. There needs to be a discussion between all levels of government – federal, state and local – about how we are going to manage water in this country,” he said. A Dubbo Photo News Facebook post on the subject attracted broad community support for the Level 2 restriction. “Be thankful that you still have water to use and take heed of Council’s restrictions. We have two dams and three rainwater tanks on our small block out of town. The dams have been empty for months now. We have been flushing toilets with buckets and recycling every drop of water where we can. Thankfully we still have drinking and washing water,” Jenet Stewart said. The State Government is never far from blame. “Was nice watching all the water flow through to irrigators during the summer so we can have no water left now,” Leslie O'Brien said. Elsewhere online, resident Karina McLachlain said: “I don't like to advocate wasting water but why should Dubbo be on restrictions when Water NSW gives environmental water away to cotton irrigators who didn't even ask for it? Especially during a drought? I think Water NSW has to get their act together and reduce over allocation first, and then Dubbo should support them. This way around it looks as if Dubbo is being punished for (someone else’s) mismanagement.” Council will discuss and possibly endorse the Level 2 water restrictions at the Ordinary Council Meeting this Monday, May 27.
Burrendong Dam statistics Storage: 6 per cent Level: 318.06m Status: Falling
Other dams Lake Keepit: 0.9 per cent, 306m, rising
Lake Menindee: 1.1 per cent, 53.06m, steady Wyangala Dam: 29.5 per cent, 356m, falling Windamere Dam: 33 per cent, 536m, falling Lake Cargelligo: 71 per cent, 156m, steady SOURCE: WATER NSW, TUESDAY, MAY 21
COUNCIL NEWS... IN BRIEF
QUESTIONS FOR COUNCIL
Accessible amenity to be built on Church Street FIFTY-PER cent of respondents polled over Council’s now preferred plans for public toilets on Church Street had expressed concern over its location. However, the chosen site was also unanimously endorsed by the Disability Inclusion Technical Panel and will be built on the eastern side of the Rotunda in Church Street. People with a disability, who possess a MLAK key, will be able to access the toilet 24 hours a day, whilst all other users can be gain access during normal public toilet operating hours (7am to 6pm, or 7am to 7pm during daylight savings). A $245,000 grant from the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Programme Exten-
Burrendong Dam was at 6 per cent storage this week. The extraordinarily low water level is shown in this photo from above, courtesy of Rebecca Sinclair.
Outsourcing the watering of the city’s trees
sion, and $200,000 from Council’s Disability Access Infrastructure Replacement, will fund construction which will take approximately four to six weeks. The location is one of three proposed, and has been identified as the best option based on its proximity to pedestrian traffic, avoidance of existing underground services, and off-street location which provides a safer access for all users.
What’s your pick for Cameron Park design? ALMOST $500,000 will be spent building a new playground in Cameron Park, Wellington, but first residents must choose their preferred design. These can be viewed on the council’s website or council staff will be available at the Rotary Markets on Saturday, May 25, to answer any enquiries and step people through the online voting
process if required. The new playground is funded by the Stronger Communities Major Project and Everyone Can Play in NSW funds to the tune of $473,343. The overall plan will include the development of an accessible playground with supportive accessible park infrastructure including furniture and barbecues.
Reader question: How much is it costing Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) to outsource the watering of the city’s trees? Response: A reader sent in the above question with a photo of a Coates Hire truck watering council trees (published in Dubbo Photo News, May 9-15). A council spokesperson says: “Our water trucks have been busy on job sites and with major projects, so to ensure that our street trees and garden beds were watered throughout summer, DRC hired a Coates Water Truck. “DRC staff drove the plant and conducted the work. The DRC-owned water truck is scheduled to be coming back to our Operations team to utilise in the coming weeks.”
Dubbo Photo News May 23-29, 2019