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Major milestone to help determine Macquarie and Lachlan’s water futures

Communities across Central West and Western NSW are one step closer to securing more reliable water.

The Federal and NSW Labor Governments are investing $17 million to develop Final Business Cases for two major water infrastructure projects.

This includes the Macquarie-Wambuul Water Security Scheme and the Belubula Water Security Scheme, which will ensure greater water reliability and increased drought resilience for residents, businesses, agriculture and the environment throughout the regions.

This marks the next step in a thorough and rigorous process – both projects will be subject to further analysis before any decisions are made.

A $9.35 million Final Business Case for the Macquarie-Wambuul Water Security Scheme will consider:

  • A regional pipeline connecting Dubbo to Nyngan and other towns
  • Changes to Burrendong Dam to increase water supply in the flood mitigation zone of the dam
  • Considering the future of the Gin Gin weir, including a fishway between Warren and Narromine
  • Non-infrastructure options identified through the Macquarie-Castlereagh Regional Water Strategy

And a $7.7 million Final Business Case for the Belubula Water Security Scheme will consider:

  • A new pipeline between Lake Rowlands Dam and Carcoar Dam which could transfer up to 2 gigalitres of water per year, capturing spills and boosting supply
  • Raising the Lake Rowlands Dam wall to increase storage from 4.5 gigalitres to 8gigalitres, securing water for Central Tablelands communities and potentially Orange
  • Building a new dam 2.5 kilometres downstream of Lake Rowlands
  • Operational rules for an interregional pipeline connecting the Belubula and Macquarie valleys

The funding for both business cases will enable the NSW Government to conduct detailed planning work and technical, environmental and cultural heritage assessments. This will help to determine whether projects are viable and deliver the best solutions for the region.

In-line with recommendations from Infrastructure NSW and feedback from hundreds of community members, the projects have been rescoped to align with the work developed through the Macquarie-Castlereagh Regional Water Strategy, which takes a holistic approach to securing water over the next 20-40 years.

The Lachlan Regional Water Strategy is currently being finalised following community consultation on short-listed options in 2023. Once it is finalised, the community will continue to be engaged on specific projects that align with the strategy and meet the region’s long-term water needs.

The Final Business Cases will be completed by mid-2025 and future investment decisions will be considered based on the outcomes.

Federal Government funding is provided through the National Water Grid Fund, which invests in priority water infrastructure projects across Australia.

For more information on the projects, visit: Macquarie-Wambuul Water Security Project and Belubula Water Security Project

Quotes attributable to the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:

“I’ve been clear that the Albanese Government will invest in projects that stack up.

“That’s why we’re working with the NSW Government and communities in the Central West and Western regions, to take the time to invest in this business case work so we can determine the best long-term options to ensure a reliable water supply.

“We have to get this right for the communities, industry and environment that depend on it.”

Quotes attributable to NSW Minister for Water, Rose Jackson:

“We’ve hit the reset button on these projects so they can better meet the water needs and address the unique challenges in the region. The rescope means the business cases have taken longer than we anticipated. Now that the work is aligned with our Regional Water Strategies, we are in the best possible position to deliver solutions for local communities – provided that the business cases stack up.

“We know this is significant infrastructure and we need to take the time to get all the details right from the outset to be sure the projects are viable and can deliver the best options going forward.

“The Final Business Cases will allow us to weigh up all the specific (or detailed) benefits and impacts, examine the designs, planning work and technical details, and consider how new infrastructure will affect residents, businesses, First Nations people, and the environment, if it proceeds.

“We’re proud to be taking the next step in assessing these projects, which are expected to secure reliable water for people across the Central West and Western regions and the environment as we stare down the barrel of a changing and drying climate.”

Aerial view of Carcoar Dam
Carcoar Dam