Parkes Shire Council will be introducing a new standpipe usage scheme in an effort to maintain its sustainable water supplies for the shire.
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Council introduced a free standpipe water measure for drought-affected rural residents not connected to the town supply in August 2018.
The program received an "overwhelming response" across the shire, council said, but the ongoing extreme dry weather and increased demand has significantly impacted reservoir levels.
General Manager Kent Boyd said it has compromised supply "not only to our townships but also our neighbouring Local Government Areas" such as the Lachlan Shire.
Because of this council reviewed its initial drought response provisions and tabled a proposed new scheme at its January 21 ordinary meeting.
The scheme will begin on Tuesday, February 4, where standpipe water in Parkes will be without charge for up to 25kL per week to approved farming enterprises.
Any additional usage over 25kL per week from approved farming enterprises will be charged at a reduced rate of $3.50 per kilolitre.
Residential, hobby farmers and water for construction will be charged the standpipe rate of $4.70 per kilolitre.
Meanwhile the Parkes brick pit standpipe will continue to be at no charge, with large volumes for private construction not allowed.
For standpipes in Peak Hill, Trundle and Tullamore, approved farming enterprises are allowed only a maximum of 25kL per week and for free, and residential and hobby farmers the same volume but at the standpipe rate.
Water for construction has also been prohibited at the village standpipes.
And with the Bogan Gate and Alectown standpipes closed to all other than those in the immediate area with special council approval, approved users can only take five kilolitres per week for free.
"We have just experienced the driest two years on record. With those extreme conditions in mind, council's aim is to continue to provide farming enterprises with some of the basic water needs, while ensuring we safeguard our supply," Mr Boyd said.
"While it may not meet all the needs, we are limited by the capacity of the infrastructure and supply sources.
"We have limited capacities on [our pipe] systems, we just can't allow large volumes of water to go out without jeopardising the town's supplies."
The Parkes Shire relies on water supply from Wyangala Dam which sits at 10 per cent, Lake Endeavour Dam (less than 20 per cent), Parkes brick pit (about 12 per cent) and ground water, which council reports are at record lows.
During the council meeting, Cr Neil Westcott said he understood the need for the Bogan Gate and Alectown standpipes to be limited to five kilolitres per week but was concerned it would not be enough water for livestock.
Mr Boyd said they were willing to be flexible with farmers in those villages and that they were still entitled to their free 25kL.
"Any farming enterprise that fits the criteria is entitled to 25kL a week under this program - it may be that you just can't get it all out of the Alectown or Bogan Gate system but they can get the residual if you like, from other standpipes," he said.
"And yes you can come back into Parkes and take the water from the brick pit which is provided free to all our community - although we are trying to keep away the larger industrial users from the brick pit so it is available for the farming community and the locals."
Cr Louise O'Leary also wanted confirmation from Mr Boyd that the Inland Rail project no longer had access to the Peak Hill standpipe and staff had to travel to Parkes for its construction water.
Mr Boyd said that council had set up a "completely separate standpipe for the Inland Rail construction work".
I can also confirm they are paying the full standpipe rate for that water.- General Manager Kent Boyd
"We are doing what we can to give them water but we have now said they cannot use any water from the Peak Hill system or the B-Section for that matter, Forbes to Tottenham systems," he said.
"However we are trying to balance their needs against everyone else's, they are currently employing something like 400 people, many of who are local, $46 million of their work's gone back into the local community.
"So there is very significant benefit in having that project work, and that's not to mention the long term, ongoing benefits of actually having the Inland Rail built.
"I can also confirm they are paying the full standpipe rate for that water."
Under the new scheme, all standpipe users will need to reapply for standpipe access.
Council said existing standpipe cards can be re-authorised by completing a new application form by February 4 - cards that haven't been re-authorised will be deactivated by this date.
New users can apply for standpipe access through council, but will be subject to eligibility and will incur a $20 card activation fee.
A new process for acquiring free water through water carters has also been introduced to ensure transparency, with fees still to be paid upfront to carters and a rebate to the farmer.
To apply for standpipe access or to re-authorise an existing standpipe card, residents can download a Standpipe Application Form from council's website www.parkes.nsw.gov.au.
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