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Big dry exposes pipeline proposal

AS DROUGHT-like conditions continue to bite in the central west, Matt Hansen, Fishing World writer and opponent of the proposed Macquarie River pipeline says cheaper and more efficient options should be considered.

Hansen, spokesman for the Inland Waterways Rejuvenation Association told Dubbo’s Daily Liberal the Orange City Council’s pipeline seemed a certainty from the outset, despite opposition from fishing and environmental groups.

He also backed criticism made by a former secretary of the Central Acclimatisation Society (CAS), Karl Schaerf, who has described the pipeline as a gross waste of public money when “far more sensible and less expensive alternatives are available”.

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Carp trapped in a diminishing waterhole on the Turon River. Image: Colin Gordon

Mr Schaerf has circulated photographs taken on the Turon River and Winburndale Rivulet, which are significant confluents of the Macquarie River, downstream of Bathurst and upstream of the proposed extraction/pump site at Cobbs Hut Hole.

Mr Hansen said all it needed was for a “Millenium-type drought to occur” and the supply for the proposed pipeline would be at risk. He said flows were already under 108 megalitres a day and the section of the Macquarie, which was considered a stronghold of fish breeding and in particular the rare trout cod, would be under severe pressure.

“You can see why we’re so upset [by the decision to approve the pipeline],” Mr Hansen said.

“This pipeline will put a stranglehold on fish breeding in a 200-kilometre radius.”

He said it was still not too late for Orange City Council to reconsider proposals like a solar panel farm on Lake Suma, which could dramatically reduce evaporation and in turn generate solar power or the Brown’s Creek aquifer which would harvest water from an abandoned mine at Lucknow.

“There’s no doubt this pipeline [proposal] would be put to the test if the drought continues,” he said.

Colin Gordon, who supplied Fishing World with images of the drought affected region, says “the section of river which will be impacted contains populations of Murray cod, silver perch, which have recovery plans in place for the species with silver perch listed as vulnerable, freshwater eel tailed catfish (protected in Murray-Darling system) and golden perch as well as resident platypus and water rats and was selected as a suitable location to release trout cod as part of the national trout cod recovery plan.”

2nd is the road crossing on the Macquarie River at Dixons Long Point approx 4k’s above the pipeline offtake in the Macquarie River, 3rd is in the bed of the Turon River between Sofala & Hill End.

“There has never been a study on this section of river which will be affected through the pipeline by NSW DPI,” Gordon added.

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Above: The road crossing on the Macquarie River at Dixons Long Point approx. 4kms above the pipeline offtake in the Macquarie River.

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