Orange's water supply to be secured through 21st century innovative water management - not 20th century destructive dam building

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A NSW Labor Government has pledged to explore all water security and management options for Orange before considering or pursuing the construction of an environmentally destructive dam on the Belubula River.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has announced that a Labor Government will:

  • commit to ensuring the Orange community has a secure water supply;
  • explore all other options for water security before a dam is built. New dams are the most expensive and environmentally destructive solution to water security;
  • not support any proposal that will inundate Cliefden Caves, including the Needles Gap and Cranky Rock proposals; and
  • pursue NSW Heritage listing for the Caves in recognition of their historical and geological significance.

“The Liberals and Nationals’ solution to any water shortage is always the same old tired policy – dam it!” Mr Foley said.

“They are still clinging to 20th century water policy when they should be embracing 21st century water management strategies and innovation to secure water supplies for regional communities – these policies end up being much cheaper for taxpayers and don’t destroy river systems.

“Damming a river should always be the very last option on the table, given the irreparable destruction that dams cause to the local river system and native animal and plant species.

“The Orange community are the custodians of the Cliefden Caves – an internationally significant system of limestone caves – and I don’t believe they want to see these caves inundated by a knee-jerk damming policy on the Belubula River.

“I said on my first day as Labor Leader that we can have economic growth and development and protect the environment at the same time. I believe this is an important test case for our State about the approach we will take towards balancing the two.

“Labor will not support any proposal that will inundate Cliefden Caves - including the Needles Gap and Cranky Rock proposals.”

Shadow Minister for Rural Water Steve Whan said community consultation on the proposals for a dam on the Belubula River had been an absolute shambles and failed to take into account the impact on communities further down the river system.

“Damming the Belubula River will have negative impacts for irrigators in the Lachlan River system. Lachlan valley irrigators already pay the second highest fixed water charges in the State; this project would be likely to further increase their charges, with no proven benefit to the security of their supply,” Mr Whan said.

“Lachlan River irrigators have had no input into this process; nor have communities further down the Lachlan like Lake Cargelligo.”