When Burrendong Dam dropped to 1.5 per cent capacity in 2020, the Macquarie River was at risk of drying up and the city's main source of drinkable water being lost.
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It highlighted the need for the city to create a more secure water supply.
Half of the Dubbo local government area has been declared drought-affected by the Department of Primary Industries in recent weeks. It is expected to expand with the declaration of El Nino bringing a hot and dry summer.
But since the drought of 2017 to 2019, Dubbo Regional Council has been working to boost its groundwater supplies to secure the city's potable water.
There has been $30 million allocated to the Dubbo Drought Groundwater Infrastructure Project from the NSW government.
The council's manager strategy water supply and sewage Chris Godfrey said between January 2017 and December 2019, the Dubbo local government area "experienced the worst drought over the historical record from the 1980s until present".
In 2017/18 the city's demand for water was the third highest in 40 years. There were 10,519 megalitres in water used by Dubbo.
In 2019/20 when Dubbo was on level five water restrictions, the water usage dropped to 7,191ML.
By February 2020, Burrendong Dam dropped to 1.5 per cent capacity.
Mr Godfrey said periods of significant drought increased the risk of the Macquarie-Wambuul River ceasing to flow. If that were to happen, there would be a "complete loss of potable water supplies in Geurie, Dubbo and Wellington".
However, the council's drought security projects will provide "a more secure potable water supply for these communities in times of severe drought", Mr Godfrey said.
The largest chunk of the $30 million Dubbo Drought Groundwater Infrastructure Project funding, almost $11 million, has gone towards the Dubbo non-potable and bore water pipeline project. It's a dual pipeline for non-potable and bore water.
The 19 kilometre non-potable water main pipeline will take ground water from bores to the John Gilbert Water Treatment Plant, if Dubbo was to enter severe drought.
The pipeline can also be used to replace non-potable groundwater, which isn't suitable for drinking, with recycled water from the Dubbo Sewage Treatment Plant.
While not currently in the works, Mr Godfrey said in the future it could also be used to convey alternate water sources to irrigate sporting facilities, or if an advanced waste water treatment facility was established, it could utilise effluent from the sewage treatment plant for drinking water in times of severe drought.
The council is also in the process of increasing its production bore sites for Dubbo from seven to 15.
As part of the $9.4 million, another five bores have already been constructed with three more to come.
Another $4.2 million has been spent on the five kilometres of pipeline connecting two bores in Montefiores with the Wellington Water Treatment Plant, and $600,000 has gone towards a similar project in Geurie.
Mr Godfrey said historic extraction records show that Dubbo could survive off groundwater alone in times off severe drought.
"That is, if it were possible to make the administrative, social and infrastructure arrangements needed there would be no need to evacuate Dubbo, and those supplied by the John Gilbert Water Treatment Plan should Burrendong Dam go dry," he said.
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