WENTWORTH Shire Council has ‘upped the ante’ on the water security issue after the adoption of six motions tabled in a ‘Mayoral minute’ at its Wednesday night meeting.
All six motions were tabled in response to allegations of water theft from the Barwon and Darling Rivers by big irrigators.
The Shire has called for the establishment of a Royal Commission or high level judicial inquiry of equal status into the alleged abuse of Water Sharing Plans and the theft of water as revealed by the ABC’s Four Corners program ’Pumped’.
The Council also resolved to call on the NSW State Government to place an immediate moratorium on the construction of the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline.
“Council has called for the moratorium on the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline to give the public the opportunity to see the business plan that led to the decision to construct the pipeline,” Mayor Melisa Hederics said.
“It’s about transparency. People have for some time been questioning the reasons behind the NSW Government’s decision to proceed with the pipeline construction rather than another option.”
Wentworth’s move comes in the wake of Broken Hill City Council voting last week to oppose the $500million pipeline to Wentworth, saying the NSW Government cannot be trusted.
At its meeting, Broken Hill Mayor Darriea Turley also used a ‘Mayoral minute’ to call for an immediate stop to the pipeline project.
“The community wants to be assured that this is the best available option for water supply to Broken Hill,” Cr Hederics said. “The sustainable use and management of our rivers is why Council has also called for the NSW Government to ensure that there are sufficient resources for the Water Compliance Unit to undertake their task.”
If the ABC’s report is correct, water extraction from the system has prevented water from flowing downstream, therefore impacting on inflows into the Menindee Lakes system, ultimately affecting communities and farmers along the Lower Darling system.
“An inquiry would, we hope, identify any issues in regard to monitoring alleged water theft throughout the system and make recommendations on how to improve the long-term management of water resources into the future to ensure the long-term health of our rivers and our communities,” Mayor Hederics said.