Water supplies for firefighting and two major events in the Armidale region will be bolstered by a massive donation from a Sydney council.
In recent days, trucks have begun transporting approximately 600,000 litres of donated water from Lane Cove Council’s redeveloped aquatic centre to assist the Armidale region as it remains under Level 5 water restrictions.
The water had been used to fill the aquatic centre’s new 50m swimming pool for safety testing and, rather than flushing the water down the drain to enable final construction works, Lane Cove Council resolved to make the water available to a drought-affected community.
Councillor Jon Galletly said it’s a wonderfully considerate gesture at a time when the community is taking many steps to conserve water while protecting quality of life and crucial business activity.
The donated water will be directed to NSW Rural Fire Service aerial fire fighting storage at Armidale Regional Airport, and a dam to help irrigate sports fields.
Armidale Regional Airport has been a base for aerial firefighting activities throughout the region since September, combatting blazes from the Queensland border to Taree.
“Extensive and sustained firefighting all but exhausted supplies in a dam at the airport and Council has since established a nearby bore to maintain supplies,” Cr Galletly said.
“However, Lane Cove Council’s wonderful donation will provide a further buffer.
“It will also bring a valuable boost for sporting fields set to host two of the region’s biggest sporting events.”
A portion of the donated water will restore levels in a Black Gully dam, to maintain three playing fields at The Armidale School that will host:
the Walter Taylor Shield regional cricket carnival
a national rugby camp coordinated by the University of New England
this summer's first-grade cricket competition
other community and sporting events, including the local triathlon club
"It was decided to make the water available for the sporting fields and events because they are important economic drivers for our region, which is particularly important to maintain a resilient local economy during the drought," Cr Galletly said.
“The fields and events are also valuable in maintaining morale and positive mental health in our community during these difficult times.”
TAS, Council and other major users have signed a contract stipulating the irrigated playing fields will be available for other community uses.
Lane Cove Mayor Pam Palmer said they could not bear the thought of flushing up to one million litres of fresh water down the drain when there were many communities desperate for water.
Lane Cove Council has been crowd funding to help cover the cost of transporting the water, which is not suitable for drinking or other domestic uses.
Around $44,000 has been raised so far and eight trucks will be used to transport the water during the next three days.