THE debate surrounding the possibility of a new dam north east of Canowindra on the Belubula River has gained momentum.
The development is yet to be confirmed with feasibility studies and a cost benefit analysis yet to determine the viability of the site.
The proposal has been a focus of concern among many in the Central West community who fear that the new dam will impact the health of the Lachlan River system while also compromising the famous Cliefdon Caves at Needles Gap.
Belubula River Alliance representative Harry Burkitt said: “The living and non-living environments of the Belubula Valley are a unique natural asset to the Central West and Australia” he said.
“One of the most significant natural heritage sites in the valley is Cliefden Caves”.
“Cliefden is home to world-recognised fossils deposits, caves, bats, a thermal spring, and important cultural sites.”
"A new water storage at the top of the Lachlan River system will take water away from farmers and wetlands at the end of the system."
A new water storage at the top of the Lachlan River system will take water away from farmers
"New technologies such as stormwater water harvesting, aquifer recharge and potable reuse are emerging as more sustainable alternatives to dam building, and need also be considered.”
Prior to Saturday's Federal election Nationals candidate Andrew Gee said that a study into the Cranky Rock development was ongoing and urged detractors not to judge the project until the feasibility study was completed.
“All options need to be considered to secure the water supply of country communities” he said.
“The Nationals have made water security a top priority with a whole host of projects across the region including $54 million in new water security pipelines, the raising of dam walls, and bore projects”.
“There is a feasibility study currently underway into the Cranky Rock site on the Belubula River which will look at the environmental, economic, hydrological and social impacts”.
“Nobody knows how that is going to turn out, so to dismiss the proposal out of hand before we've even seen the results of the feasibility study, isn't the responsible approach.
“We need to see what the experts say and then have a discussion about it”.
“There is no point pre-empting the study,” Mr Gee said.
Earlier this year Water Minister Kevin Humphries said the Cranky Rock dam avoided the engineering challenges and environmental considerations of Needles Gap, including the caves.
“Cranky Rock was chosen from 15 sites investigated in the Belubula and Lachlan catchments,” he said.
“A large dam of up to 700 gigalitres at Cranky Rock has the potential advantages of increasing water security for central councils and other users throughout the Lachlan Valley.
“A Cranky Rock water supply would allow Carcoar Dam to be networked into Central Tablelands Water supply allowing it to extend the network.
(Photo: Oxana Repina)