Delivering a healthy working Basin for Australia: Central New South Wales

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Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011

Program: Strengthening Basin Communities
Funding recipient: Central NSW Councils (Centroc)
Water for the Future funding: $790,000
Project commencement:  January 2010
Project completion: September 2011

Photo of Bathurst Water Filtration Plant

Sheep in paddock

Central NSW Councils are looking at carbon neutral options to secure water for the region and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

‘It’s about addressing the mix between water and energy to make sure that what we do to secure water doesn’t affect our energy supplies,’ says Cr Phyllis Miller, chair of Centroc and mayor of Forbes. ‘We don’t want to fix one problem and by doing so, create another.’

Centroc’s 2009 Water Security Study was a regional approach to water security, sparked partly by the worst drought on record. It forecast urban demand from the dozens of towns within Centroc’s remit, for a 50-year period to 2059. The project also considered the economic, environmental and social impacts of climate change.

The study’s findings led to the current project, the Carbon Plus Study, funded under the Australian Government’s Strengthening Basin Communities program, will help Centroc manage the carbon footprint of its water security strategy.

‘Energy and water go hand in hand,’ says Phyllis.

‘To improve our chances of receiving funding for infrastructure needed in the region, we need to be able to reduce its carbon impact. It’s also a responsible investment in our future.’

Centroc believes the Carbon Plus Study will have a wide range of outcomes, from a greater understanding of reducing carbon impacts by communities and local governments through to saving money.

‘We’re still in the early stages of the project, but our indications are that councils will understand the carbon costs of running their water utilities, and make real dollar savings in electricity bills,’ says Phyllis.

‘Through this process, all the councils in the region are working together, sharing their learning and using a common language. This grant is helping us collaborate to secure a potable and low carbon water supply for the future.’

Centroc’s efforts have been recognised through several awards for its Water Security Study, the most recent being the award for Engineering for Regional Communities at the National Engineers Australia Awards in Canberra in December 2010.

Governments at all levels are working with Basin communities to achieve a healthy river system that supports strong and viable communities. Central to this is the strengthened involvement of local communities in the design and roll out of government programs.

The Australian Government is also committed to 'bridging the gap' between current water diversions and any final sustainable diversion limits in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, through water savings generated by infrastructure investments and voluntary water purchases.

Photo of Blayney wind farm

Blayney wind farm

Photo of Borrodell Winery, Orange

Borrodell Winery, Orange