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Coonabarabran Water Supply

Warrumbungle Shire Council is proposing in the annual Operational Plan for the 2019-20 period, to increase the charges for sewer by 15% and water by 18%. ‚Äč

“The proposed increases in water and sewer charges have not been an easy decisions for Council” said Warrumbungle Shire Council Mayor, Councillor Denis Todd. “These quite large increases are being proposed for a range of reasons some of which include the increasing costs of maintaining and importantly upgrading of infrastructure; increasing electricity costs; maintenance of, and increase in, service levels across the Shire; costs increasing more than revenue for a number of years along with the sharp decline in revenue as a result of the drought through less water sales.”

“I understand that some people are saying that this is to fund the work on the bores for Coonabarabran, while this is partially correct it is only one of many factors behind the decision to increase the water charges. Council has actually been fortunate to have received $1,717,500 in funding for the installation of production bores at Coonabarabran as a total project cost of $2,042,500. As part of these works a total of six bores have been brought into production, with a seventh bore to be brought online in the coming weeks” said Councillor Todd

“Others are saying that installation of these bores has been a waste and the Timor Dam could have provided water to Coonabarabran. This is not correct, while Council could have introduced water restrictions earlier and more severely than it did there have not been sufficient inflows into the Dam for well over two years!”

“In fact over the past two years there have been very minimal inflows and today it is sitting below 20% of its capacity, the lowest on record and Council has not drawn water from Timor Dam since May 2018. Added to this, again due to the low flows, Council did not draw water from the Castlereagh River between January and May this year.”

“Council has only just recommenced drawing water from the River and had it not been for the existing and additional bores Coonabarabran would have been in a much harsher position than it has been, perhaps running out of water completely” said Councillor Todd.

“Very importantly though Council needs to deal with a number of large capital projects in the water and sewer areas” said Cr Todd.

“In order to ensure that our water and sewer infrastructure is capable of providing the service needed by the communities it serves Council has been actively seeking out grant funds. Council has been fortunate to have received funding to assist it with these works but often Council is also required to contribute large sums to these projects as well.”

“Over the past four years Council has undertaken many large scale capital works in its Water Fund. These works have been escalating and amounted to expenditure in excess of $5.8 million with funding in the order of $3.3 million, a funding gap of $2.5 million. In the coming two years Council is expecting to spend a further $4.7 million and will only receive $1.1 million creating a funding gap of $3.6 million.”

“Some of the projects that Council needs to complete in the coming years include the clarifier at the Baradine Water Treatment Plant, water meter replacements, mains replacements and extensions, reservoir upgrades, improvements to the Mendooran Water Supply and studies into the upgrade of the Coolah Water Supply system.”

“These are large scale projects and important for the security of our water supplies” said Cr Todd.

“As for the Sewer Fund there are even larger projects ahead with over $11 million in projects proposed in the next couple of financial years.”

“It is also important for people to be aware that Council is not able to cross subsidise these funds, they must be financially self sustaining.”

“At the end of the day these projects have been or are necessary to ensure that good and adequate services are provided to our communities. There will be some more difficult decisions ahead to ensure that Council remains financially viable, especially with the number and type of assets Council maintains” concluded Councillor Todd.

Click here to download media release

Last Updated: 29 May 2019