Water crisis naysayers in Dubbo are being told that it is better to be prepared for the "absolute worst-case scenario" of Burrendong Dam running dry.
Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders outlined some of the water projects being undertaken or considered in the western region when confirming the awarding of a $6.7 million contract to Seymour Whyte to salvage about 16 gigalitres (GL) of remnant storage water below the dam's outlet valve.
"All things are on the table and I think to claim there's no crisis and just hope that it will rain is not a very proactive way to go about things," he said.
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"We've been close to this situation in the past where levels of the dam have been possibly lower than they are now and then it has rained.
But I'm not willing to take a ..punt that that will happen again."
Mr Saunders defended preparations for the "absolute worst-case scenario".
"If it (rain) does happen well happy days but if it doesn't we're prepared and we're on the front foot and making sure we look after towns and communities," he said.
Mr Saunders was speaking at WaterNSW in the Blueridge Business Park on Tuesday when the dam was at three per cent capacity.
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While its average inflow is 1500GL per year, the dam has received 55GL and 42GL, respectively, in the past two years.
"At the moment we are receiving 1GL a month," WaterNSW's media manager Tony Webber said.
"If that trend continues we'll receive 12GL in this 12-month period.
"So that gives you an indication of the severity of the crisis as far as inflows to Burrendong Dam.
"This is much, much worse than previous droughts."
Mr Webber said the dam was usually replenished in the winter/spring period but it had missed out for an unprecedented three years, resulting in "almost zero inflows".
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A bulk water transfer from Windamere Dam to Burendong Dam possibly in early 2020 and the salvaging of the remnant water is expected to help keep water flowing into downstream communities for the next "nine to 12 months".
The emergency measures aim to give Dubbo Regional Council time to augment its groundwater supply.