Lake Cargelligo and Tullibigeal Water Supply

About this Item
SubjectsWater; Rivers and Lakes: Lake Cargelligo
SpeakersArmstrong Mr Ian
BusinessPrivate Members Statements

Page: 13600

    Mr IAN ARMSTRONG (Lachlan) [6.07 p.m.]: Today I want to speak about the Lake Cargelligo and Tullibigeal water supply. The supply of water comes under the responsibility of the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, and Minister for Natural Resources. Following discussions with the Minister and his senior staff, the Minister has given an undertaking that the matter will be attended to. The supply of water comes from two different sectors. The Lake Cargelligo water supply comes from a lake of about 3,500 acres, which is adjacent to the town. The lake is filled from the Lachlan River, and there is a channel of approximately 6 to 7 kilometres between the lake and the river. The river has a gate, and water discharges from the river into the lake. Currently the lake holds 10,000 megalitres of water. With a capacity of 6,360 megalitres the lake is considered to be dead storage. In other words, at that capacity water will not be available.

    Lachlan Shire Council has ascertained that the Lachlan Customer Service Committee, which allocates the water, has committed to maintain the water level at 154.5 metres until the end of January 2005. This morning the level is only 154.79 metres. Only 0.69 metres is available to take Lake Cargelligo through to the end of the drought. The strong possibility is that if the level drops further there will be insufficient flow even if the river gates are lifted. Not only does the Lachlan River supply the town of Lake Cargelligo, which has a population of 1,600, it is also home to many waterfowl, particularly migrating pelicans, about eight different species of wild duck, waterhen, and a large body of other bird life. It is a favourite nesting ground for bird life.

    I ask the Minister to recognise the urgency of this matter and to order that there be a discharge of water from the Lachlan River into Lake Cargelligo to prevent that lake from drying up and to keep the town alive. Tullibigeal, a village 30 kilometres further south-east, is also dependent upon that lake for its water supply. It is also essential for the maintenance of the ecosystem. At the same time, the low level of the lake is causing water quality problems. That comes under the responsibility of the Minister for Energy and Utilities, the Hon. Frank Sartor. As I have said, the level is down to a stage where damage is now being done to the pumping equipment. It is only 18 months since Lake Cargelligo had a completely new water system.

    Lachlan Shire Council is of the opinion, on the basis of the best available research, that three sums of money are necessary—$50,000 emergency funding for the installation of a raw water disc filtration system at the Lake Cargelligo Water Filtration Plant; $400,000 emergency funding for the design, construction and commissioning of a lagoon sedimentation system; and $460,000 emergency funding for the purchase and installation of diesel foreshore pumps, transfer pipeline, and lake bed channel excavation works. Water storage levels for the lake are at a 21-year low, presently recorded at 11 per cent, with an average water depth of 1.2 to 1.4 metres, which is about waist high. Honourable members will appreciate that this is an impending disaster.

    The third problem is the weir at Condobolin, which is the headquarters of the Lachlan Shire. The weir was built in the late 1800s and every day is leaking water equivalent to approximately 25 Olympic swimming pools. The council has sought to have repairs undertaken. I approached the Minister in September of this year and there was a verbal agreement that $50,000 would be made available. Lachlan Shire Council committed a similar sum of money. But there is a problem: no-one owns the weir; title has never been issued.

    Between 21 November and 1 December we made approximately 14 phone calls to the Minister's office in an attempt to have title established for the weir. There was verbal agreement one day that it doesn't belong to anyone except the Crown, because title has never been issued, and therefore, the Crown is responsible. But for some reason the Minister and his office seem to be incapable of giving an instruction that they will stand by the insurances problems and so forth so the council can repair that weir. Meanwhile, 25 Olympic swimming pools of water are trickling down the Lachlan River every day, wasted. That is a disgrace. It is as simple as this: if title has not been issued on any property in this State it belongs to the Crown and the Crown is responsible for it. I understand there are other weirs in the north of the State that are in the same situation.