SECURING enough water to avoid level six restrictions looks increasingly likely after the state government passed crucial legislation on Thursday.
State Parliament passed the Water Supply (Critical Needs) Bill, which will fast-track water infrastructure projects in Dubbo, Orange and Tamworth by six to nine months, which have been identified as having critical water supply needs within the next two years.
Three key developments to be fast-tracked for authorisation are the Burrendong Dam deep water storage project, the Chaffey Dam to Dungowan pipeline and the Macquarie River to Orange pipeline.
The Burrendong Dam project will secure additional water for Dubbo, Wellington, Warren, Nyngan and Cobar, by providing access to an additional 21 gigalitres of water that is currently inaccessible.
Dubbo Regional Council mayor Ben Shields welcomed the move, saying it was good news for Dubbo, however, he called for more permanent investment from the state government.
"The move is better than nothing, but I continue to remind the state government that substantial water infrastructure investment to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars is needed," he said.
"The Dubbo region is still needing water storage initiatives around the region so we can store water in times of flood. This is only a drop in the ocean, but it is welcome, and we do appreciate it."
This is only a drop in the ocean, but it is welcome, and we do appreciate it.Ben Shields
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the temporary legislation would provide streamlined approvals for water infrastructure projects where there is critical town water supply need for the next two years.
"This is the breakthrough our regional towns and cities have been waiting for," Mr Barilaro said.
Water Minister Melinda Pavey acknowledged the state government needed to take urgent action. The legislation will be in effect for two years, and would only be allowed to extend by 12 months if the drought continued.
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