Keep watching your water: Mayor clarifies Oberon supply questions

GOING DOWN: Oberon Dam level is sitting at 31.35 per cent capacity but Bathurst Regional Council still wants water from the dam.

GOING DOWN: Oberon Dam level is sitting at 31.35 per cent capacity but Bathurst Regional Council still wants water from the dam.

In mayor Kathy Sajowitz's column in the Oberon Review last week, Cr Sajowitz said water levels in the dam are hovering around 30 per cent.

Cr Sajowitz reminded ratepayers that Oberon does not own the dam or the water supply but is a licence holder along with two other major customers and some minor users.

As the dam level recedes, other major users experience a drop in their allocations under their licencing agreements. At Levels 1 and 2 their allocation reduces by 20 per cent (current).

When the dam drops to 25 per cent capacity, Level 3 restrictions come into place.

At Level 3, the allocation of all licence holders other than Oberon Council drops by 30 per cent of their licensed allocation.

"As the only water supply for Oberon, under our licence agreement we are able to draw our full allocation until the dam reaches 15 per cent (Level 5) capacity, when we lose 10 per cent of our allocation," Cr Sajowitz said.

Cr Sajowitz encourages all residents to be aware of their water usage.

"Please ensure showers are short and maybe think twice before you wash the car and, remembe, grass will nearly always grow back once it does rain," she said.

During October 2019 the dam level decreased by 1.1 per cent and water consumption for those on the town reticulated water supply was 1.846ML per day.

This compared to the same time last year when consumption was 1.78ML per day.

BATHURST WATER WOES CONTINUE

BATHURST deputy mayor Ian North has defended council staff after a fellow councillor seemingly made the accusation that they hadn't tried hard enough to secure a water allocation from Oberon Dam.

The water allocation was one of several ideas council has pursued to secure Bathurst's water but the NSW Government denied the request in October.

At Bathurst's council meeting last week, during discussion of a motion put forward by Cr John Fry, Cr Jennings said council's leadership had let the city down.

"The failure to get the Oberon Dam water allocation to get us through this summer has created a water emergency on this council because of a massive failure of this council's political leadership and failed lobbying to get that water allocation from Oberon," Cr Jennings said.

He said that, without that water, the prospect of moving to higher level restrictions was more likely and the irrigators may get cease-to-pump orders before their crops are ready.

"Our leadership failed to back our local irrigators as a lobby group in partnership with this council," he said.

"Our leadership failed to engage the farm lobby sector as a whole, and an example of this failed leadership is that the NSW drought coordinator did not even know Bathurst had a problem until about two days before this decision was handed down.

"You can't tell me that's not a failure in political leadership."

But Cr North was quick to refute the claims.

He said everyone had a right to their opinion, but he wasn't prepared to accept accusations that council wasn't trying hard enough to secure the region's water.

"It disappoints me when we come in here and go at a political leadership thing," he said.

"This council at this time, with the previous mayor and the current mayor, I think it's close to $15 million that has been sought and got for [water] activities around here.

"We've worked hard and to suggest, at meetings that you (Cr Jennings) weren't at, that the leadership up here and our staff have not done a good job is offensive."

Cr North said the mayor and senior council staff were regularly meeting with other levels of government to lobby for support for water projects.

Importantly, he said they have continued to push for an allocation from Oberon Dam despite the state government's decision.

"They've told us no, but I know our guys and girls who go down there are going to keep saying 'we still want that water'," Cr North said.

Cr Jennings later clarified his comments to the Western Advocate, saying Cr North had "misrepresented" his opinion during the meeting. He said was criticising mayoral leadership displayed by Graeme Hanger and Bobby Bourke, not the work of council staff.