An urgent request to alter the current Water Access Licence for Woolgoolga Dam is to be sent to the NSW Government to allow some of the water it contains to be used for agricultural irrigation during the current drought.
Following an Extraordinary Council Meeting last night (13 January 2020) – called by Councillors to debate a Notice of Motion they put forward – Council will make an urgent application to the NSW Department of Primary Industry and Environment to amend the dam’s existing Water Access Licence to include agriculture/irrigation.
If the Department approves the licence amendment, Council will then provide up to 100 megalitres (approximately 45% of the dam’s water) for local agricultural producers on a fair and equal basis. The water use would be reviewed again on March 31 2020.
Staff suggested that, if the licence is amended, the distribution of the available water could be managed by:
- Using Smart Meters to monitor the allocation of the available water among producers to ensure the proposed 100 megalitre total limit is not exceeded.
- Ensuring fair distribution among users through a water sharing register and allocating volumes of water to each user via Raw Water Access Licences. Actual quantities of water delivered by commercial carriers to each licensed end-user will be recorded by commercial carriers into log books which will be overseen by Council.
- Having Council staff manage the water access point at Newmans Road and restrict its use to 7am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am to 12 noon on Saturdays due to its proximity to homes. The second water access point on Solitary Islands Way will not be initially restricted.
- Minimising any impacts to the dam’s visual amenity and its habitat diversity by only removing 100 megalitres, which will reduce the water depth from 9.7m to approximately 7.0m.