Passionate water users plead ‘keep your hands off our water’

Passionate water users hit the streets of Mudgee on Saturday to show their opposition to a planned bulk water transfer between Windamere Dam and Burrendong Dam.

The rally was organised by councillor and spokesperson for the water users, Russell Holden who said the planned transfer would leave Windamere Dam’s water levels dangerously low.

The Saturday rally had approximately half of the numbers that the first gathering at the Windamere boat ramp had in early August.

A post on the ‘Hands off our water’ Facebook page said they were disappointed more people didn’t march the streets on Saturday.

“It is disappointing to see such a small number of local residents turn up to today's Save our Water rally,” the post said.

“This will impact every resident of Mudgee,”

“Not only will there be less water in the dam, but council could be forced to put in extra water treatment, every ratepayer of the area will pay more,”

“It was also disappointing to only see one current councillor there today, with Russell Holden addressing the crowd.”

“I would like to think the end result would be a renegotiation of the water sharing plan and potentially the separation of Windamere, Cudgegong and Burrendong/Macquarie.”

Russell Holden

Mr Holden said while he wanted to see ‘more arms and legs’ at the march, he feels they “certainly got the message across”.

But this march isn’t the end for Mr Holden and the group, with plans to march on Macquarie Street and even take legal action if needed.

“We’ve taken some legal advice and we can do a merit based appeal through WaterNSW on the bulk water transfer and if that was unsuccessful, if push came to shove, we could make an appeal through Land and Environment Court,” Mr Holden said.

“I would put it to council that we may need to go that far and ask for council’s support to do that.”

In addition to these concerns, Mr Holden is stressing that people understand the way water is stored in our region compared to others.

“Nobody in the Cudgegong Valley has really on-farm storage. So our on-farm storage is Windamere Dam. Whereas lots of the big license holders have huge on-farm storages,” he said.

“Even if they can’t pump from the river they have that water in storage and when they are allowed to pump from the river, often they will pump and refill that on-farm storage. Here in the Cudgegong, we don’t have the ability or capacity to do that.”