WaterNSW: Towns running dry rumours are incorrect, mayor says

DRY TIMES: The region might be struggling through the drought, but mayor Ken Keith disputed reports that Parkes would run dry by March. Photo: AMY MCINTYRE
DRY TIMES: The region might be struggling through the drought, but mayor Ken Keith disputed reports that Parkes would run dry by March. Photo: AMY MCINTYRE

RESIDENTS in Parkes will have water through 2020 and beyond, mayor Ken Keith said following national reports that supplies will dry up by March.

Reports on the weekend said Dubbo, Nyngan, Narromine and Cobar would run out of water by November, with Forbes, Cowra and Parkes to be dry by March 2020.

The data was based on WaterNSW modelling and was for worst-case scenario which included no significant rainfall or government intervention.

Parkes Champion Post also understands that the report only took into account surface water, such as rivers and dams, and did not include ground water and bores.

Cr Keith disputed the report and said the town was "not at immediate risk of running dry".

"It is deeply disappointing that these figures have been quoted," he continued.

While there is no doubt that the current drought situation is dire and needs a combined response from all levels of government, our communities are already stressed without this kind of alarmist reporting adding to the burden.

Parkes Shire Council mayor Ken Keith

"While there is no doubt that the current drought situation is dire and needs a combined response from all levels of government, our communities are already stressed without this kind of alarmist reporting adding to the burden.

"Our community can rest assured that Parkes will have water through 2020 and beyond. We are very much able to service our residents, businesses, and visitors to the region."

Other councils mentioned in the report were also contacted by the Parkes Champion Post and none agreed with the running dry timeline.

Cr Keith said some visitors to Parkes were now questioning their travel plans as they did not want to be further a drain on our water supply.

"I would like to reassure everyone that Parkes is not at imminent risk of running dry," he said.

"We encourage visitors to come and support our local businesses and enjoy everything Parkes has to offer."

Investment in Parkes' water supply

Cr Keith said council had invested significantly in water security during the past five years and it had a proactive, integrated approach to withstand the current drought conditions.

General manager Kent Boyd said council had upgraded the raw water infrastructure in 2016-18 as part of a $100 million multi award-winning Integrated Water Infrastructure Program.

"Council constructed new, more efficient water and wastewater treatment plants, as well as upgrading our raw water supply infrastructure, constructing a new river pump station and refurbishing council's bores," he said.

Council constructed new, more efficient water and wastewater treatment plants, as well as upgrading our raw water supply infrastructure, constructing a new river pump station and refurbishing council's bores.

Parkes Shire Council general manager Kent Boyd

"The borefield now comprises eight bores that collectively allow an increasing extraction capacity while spreading the drawdown of water over a larger area to minimise impact on the aquifer."

Mr Boyd said council would soon commission a recycled water scheme and this would create a climate-resistant water supply for Parkes.

This water will be used to irrigate public parks and sporting fields, which will reduce demand on potable water.

"While the current drought is dire, and presents a real risk to the region, Parkes Shire Council is diligently managing the situation with efficient use of available resources, ongoing water conservation measures, and the continued implementation of water infrastructure projects," Mr Boyd said.

"We are always planning at least two years ahead."

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