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'Beggars belief': Council fears state government learns nothing from current drought


LEFT: Chaffey Dam in January. RIGHT: Chaffey Dam just before Christmas. Pictures: Geoff Dunn

Tamworth's mayor has expressed concern that the state government's proposed water sharing plan does not adequately reflect what the city has dealt with during the drought. The NSW Minister for Water has recently announced the plan would be submitted to the Murray Darling Basin Authority by June 30. The new water rules would last for a decade, to 2030. Councillors will be asked to vote on whether staff should take action with a report claiming that the changes would not improve the security and reliability of Tamworth's water supplies. Mayor Col Murray said he wants to see the plan accurately reflect what Tamworth has been through in recent years. He added that the city has been on level five water restrictions for 15 months. "The determination under the water sharing plan, we believe, does not allocate enough water to town water availability," Cr Murray said. "We have a situation where there is 100 per cent in the next water year, which is financial year aligned, and we have 70 per cent in the following year. "Statistics would suggest that if we look at the amount of time Tamworth residents spend under water restrictions against every other regional city in NSW, we - in my understanding - are much more affected than any other city ... that's council's concern." Cr Murray said he has serious concerns about "assumptions" in the water sharing plan. "My frustration there appears to be a lack of understanding, a lack of acknowledgment that Tamworth is seriously affected," he said. "We certainly would like to see the current experiences of this record drought in any deliberation. "It almost beggars belief, when this 10-year plan which will impact on this city and every single water user for the next 10 years is being determined on historical evidence that finishes in 2010." Council recommends that it starts a media and education campaign encouraging residents to write to their local NSW Government representative urging them to make changes to both the Peel and Upper Namoi WSP to improve security and reliability of supply for town water. Should council agree then, as there is no funding currently in the Annual Operating Plan, it is suggested $100,000 be made available from the Water Reserve to fund it. Melinda Pavey, Minister for Water, and Kevin Anderson, Member for Tamworth, have both been contacted for comment.

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