Lake Albert water supply: proposed agreement
Published: 05 Feb 2021 4:06pm
Wagga Wagga City Council has been seeking a permanent solution to the level and quality of water in Lake Albert. This week marked a milestone in providing a permanent solution to the issue.
General Manager Peter Thompson and Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga Cr Greg Conkey OAM attended a meeting with Minister for Water, Property and Housing the Hon Melinda Jane Pavey MP as well as senior government staff and local representatives the Hon Wes Fang MLC, and Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr MP to discuss a proposal from Council.
It was agreed that the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) will work with Wagga Wagga City Council to prepare a draft agreement that will be presented back to Minister Pavey at the end of February.
Under the proposal Council will agree to release 5000 megalitres of water into the river system each year. In return, Council may pump up to 2000 megalitres of water from a different point on the river to top up the lake at the end of winter or in early spring if needed. The total capacity of Lake Albert is 4000 megalitres.
This high-quality consistent flow of water is owned by the residents of Wagga Wagga, and Council currently pays a yearly fee to put the water into the river system.
Council has proposed to continue releasing the water into the river, rather than finding an alternative use for the water, such as selling it to irrigators.
Pumping from a different location will reduce the infrastructure required to ensure a consistent flow of water to Lake Albert. Currently, only those holding a water licence can pump water from the river. The proposed agreement would enable Council to pump the allocated water and also guarantee the river system a minimum of 3000 megalitres of high-quality water every year.
This new proposal does away with the need for inconsistent rainfall events to naturally fill the lake and removes uncertainty around economic progress related to the lake and surrounds.
NSW Nationals MLC Wes Fang said that while several issues had been identified that needed addressing, the meeting with Minister Pavey was productive.
“DPIE-Water and Wagga City Council will now work together to bring back to Minister Pavey a joint proposal for consideration by the end of the month,” Mr Fang said.
“Both the NSW Government and Wagga City Council will work together on this issue in a way that meets the expectations of the local community.”
Cr Conkey acknowledged the support the city has received, both from the Deputy Premier John Barilaro, and NSW Nationals MLC Wes Fang.
“We are very grateful for the support they have shown the city. There is recognition that the solution offered by Wagga Wagga City Council is very promising, and that the future of the lake is tied to the economic prosperity of the area.
“To have them lending their support to our proposal has really helped our effort to bring the NSW Government to the table.”
Cr Conkey also acknowledged that Minister Pavey was aware of the social and economic significance of the lake to residents of Wagga Wagga.