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Water security for Bourke — but leave our downstream weirs intact!

Director of Northern Projects for Water Infrastructure NSW, Andrew Lavelle, in talks with Bourke Mayor, Councillor Barry Hollman. PHOTO TWH

The town of Bourke could have vastly improved water security following a meeting of state government and Bourke Shire Council last week.

The Better Baaka program is a government initiative looking at water issues along the Barwon Darling river system, in particular the need to improve the environment and town water supplies along the system.

The NSW Government plan is to divert funds from the Menindee Lakes water saving project, which has now been abandoned because of community opposition, and use those funds to improve town water supplies and environmental conditions in the Barwon-Darling and Lower Darling Rivers.

Bourke Mayor, Councillor Barry Hollman, said that commitments to replace or improve the Bourke weir made during the meeting could transform Bourke into the future. The commitment is to make Bourke the ‘number one priority’ for town water security – a promise made several years ago by former Regional Water Minister Niall Blair when he outlined the Western Weirs Strategy, and which has languished ever since.

Councillor Hollman said last week’s meeting had revived hopes that this time, Bourke will at last get a better deal.

“This is the best news I’ve heard since I’ve been in council,” Clr Hollman said. “This could give us improved water security and if we get certainty in our water supply it will encourage people to come back and invest in Bourke.

“The Better Baaka program is all about the Barwon-Darling River system and is associated with the Western Weir Strategy through the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).

“This is really exciting news for our town,” he said.

Clr Hollman said there had been several meetings recently, and a further meeting in January with council following talks with DPIE’s Director of Northern Projects for Water Infrastructure NSW, Andrew Lavelle.

“After our first meeting in November, Mr Lavelle confirmed that Bourke is the highest priority for building a new weir, or for increasing the height of the existing weir, and he said that the government wants to accelerate the process,” Clr Hollman said.

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