Long list of water projects highlights Orange’s long term water security

Orange Council

The long of list of water projects set to be studied in a new multi-million dollar business case analysis, is highlighting the region’s long-term water security, according to Orange mayor Jason Hamling.

After years of lobbying, Orange City Council has welcomed the announcement by the Australian and NSW Governments to invest $17 million to develop final business cases for water infrastructure projects which could help to drought proof Orange and the central west.

“There’s a long list of potential projects in the Macquarie-Wambuul and Beluba River strategies which have the potential to deliver greater water reliability and increased drought resilience for residents and businesses,” Cr Jason Hamling said.

“Because Orange has a healthy economy and is a growing city with many people moving to town, some people come away with the perception that we won’t have enough water to support this growth.”

“The water strategies make it clear that there’s a dozen options on the drawing board that could make all the difference to guarantee our water security. This funding for the business case will help determine which projects are viable.”

The list of projects mentioned in the preliminary water strategies with potential impact for Orange include proposals to:

  • change the operational rules governing when and how much water from the Macquarie River can be pumped to Orange using the Macquarie pipeline. The strategy found that increasing the annual take limit does not impact storage levels in Burrendong Dam or the reliability of allocations from the dam to water users.
  • build the proposed East Orange wetland and other ways of developing Orange’s stormwater harvesting system. The strategy found that additional stormwater harvesting schemes in Orange will reduce the city’s time spent in severe water restrictions
  • seek funding to build a pilot plant to use purified recycled water from the Orange waste water Treatment Plant
  • build an additional dam on the Macquarie River at Long Point (Ulmarrah Dam). The preliminary strategy suggests this may not be a cost-effective option.
  • supply water to upper Macquarie towns from the Fish River or Coxs River catchment
  • supply water to Bathurst and/or Orange from the Lachlan Valley
  • continue to use demand management strategies which encourage residents to use less water
  • explore ways to cut water loss by developing advanced leak monitoring and management systems
  • raise the wall of Lake Rowlands Dam wall to increase storage from 4.5 gigalitres to 8 gigalitres
  • A new pipeline between Lake Rowlands Dam and Carcoar Dam which could transfer up to 2 gigalitres of water per year
  • building a new dam 2.5 kilometres downstream of Lake Rowlands


$9.35 million will be spent by the Australian and NSW Governments on the Macquarie-Wambuul Water Security Scheme and $7.7 million will be spent on the Belubula Water Security Scheme

The funding for both business cases will enable the NSW Government to conduct detailed planning work and technical, environmental and cultural heritage assessments. This will help to determine whether projects are viable and deliver the best solutions for the region.

The Final Business Cases will be completed by mid-2025 and future investment decisions will be considered based on the outcomes. The Lachlan Regional Water Strategy is currently being finalised following community consultation on short-listed options in 2023.

The Macquarie-Castlereagh Regional Water Strategy can be found here:


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