Meeting to save native fish from pipe line

“NOW we are going with the pioneer explorers and squatters over the Great Dividing Range into the immense plains of the west , where the rivers flow in long, leisurely streams west and south west , gridded like the veins in a gum leaf , to join the mighty Kalliwatta River “
– Frank Clune’s Wild Colonial Boys.

The mighty Kalliwatta River is now called the Darling River after a Governor of a fledgling colony. It’s a river that in good times is called upon to supply water for towns and cities for food and fibre crops, its vast flood plains can be tens of kilometres wide, floods carrying us into the future.

In bad times the river dries to salty water holes thick with blue green algae and rotting corpses of fish and animals that cannot survive the toxic soup. One of those veins that flow into the Kalliwatta/Darling River is the Wambool River another misnamed after another of our Governors, Macquarie.
The Wambool has fared better than the Darling which flows into the Moorundie – the last two both having suffered terribly with fish kills in recent times. The Moorundie too had its name changed to The Murray by Mr. Sturt.

Thankfully, the Murrumbidgee which means “big water” in the Wiradjuri language was not discovered by a government official and renamed in the honour of some official back home in England.

Back from the history lesson, the Macquarie River is also in threat of having the life blood sucked from its vein. Orange in central NSW is a growing town of in excess of 38,000 residents, all needing water to sustain life. Orange has diverse industries from rural to industrial and a town that in the last drought was on very shaky ground.

There’s now a proposal to build a pipe line to the Macquarie River that would help to drought proof the city; one measure in unison with others to secure a water supply for this growing city.

A major employer and asset for not only Orange and surrounding towns but also Australia, is Newcrest’s Cadia Operations, a huge gold mining operation on the outskirts of Orange. The town is a major beneficiary of the Cadia project.
In good times, Orange’s water storages are near capacity and cannot store any more water unless they inject water into underground aquifers in what is known as a MAR or managed aquifer recharge. The reality is Orange will only need to pump from the Macquarie in times of drought. Storages upstream of Bathurst, include Ben Chifley Dam on the Campbell’s River and Oberon Dam on the Fish River; these two streams join to form the Macquarie River.
In drought these storages drop severely in levels, the dams’ release valves are screwed off tight. Some of the water captured at Oberon is sent east over the Great Divide for the those looking for a drink.

The effluent from these towns and cities is treated and released back into the rivers. In the bad times this trickle of effluent mixes with the small flows from natural springs that run down the Macquarie towards Burrendong dam, and in turn help native fish survive the drought and repopulate in the good times – when they come!

Orange City Council is contracted to supply up to 10ML of treated effluent per day to Newcrest’s Cadia mine. This 10ML used to flow back into the Macquarie River via Summer Hill Creek. The pipe line, if given the go ahead, will kill the spawning runs of the native fish in the times when the river requires every litre of flow to stimulate them to move upstream from Burrendong Dam.

Orange will pump when levels exceed 30ML a day, how much is a 30 ML flow in the Macquarie? It is a flow that will not let natives travel over the gravel beds that now are a permanent feature of the river in the back waters of Burrendong Dam, gravels that are deposited as raging flood waters mixed with sand and rock hit the backed up waters of the dam and settle. It is a flow that will not let the natives travel through the gravel and rock runs between the holes, or enable a canoe to float along a river without requiring many portages…

A meeting of concerned stake holders is set down for October 8th and 9th for those who would like to show their opposition to the location of the extraction point of this pipe line – we need it to go to Burrendong Dam and not the river.

If you are an angler, canoeist or kayaker, bushwalker, or anyone who enjoys the outdoors you are invited to the meeting at “Bundi” Burn’s Road Via Hill End in NSW to help stop this death blow to our river and its native fish.

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