Community unites to protest pipeline

Pipes for the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline.

Pipes for the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline.

PROTESTERS will gather at Wentworth tomorrow morning to voice their opposition to the NSW Government’s $467 million pipeline from the Murray River to Broken Hill.

Concerns about the project have mounted in Sunraysia and far west NSW for the past two years, amid fears it is part of a plan to allow the lower Darling River to run dry more frequently.

Fewer small flows in the Darling River system have reached the Menindee Lakes in dry years since 2012, when NSW allowed water sharing rules to change after lobbying from irrigators in the Barwon-Darling.

Lower Darling landholders, Wentworth and Mildura councillors, traditional owners and local environmentalists are all expected to attend today’s protest at Fotherby Park.

Wentworth councillor Jane MacAllister said she doubted any business case for the pipeline existed, the government having so far made public only a summary.

Cr MacAllister said the government had failed to properly assess environmental impacts and warned the pipeline would make it easier for the government to isolate the lower Darling, by shoring up Broken Hill’s supply with Murray water.

“It’s tearing our community apart,” she said.

“There has been no consultation with Maraura traditional owners at all.

“Everything about their life is living and breathing that river and it’s so deeply ingrained, and I’m not just talking five or six generations. It’s like 60,000 years.”

Despite local opposition, the government has no plans to stop its pipeline.

“The pipeline provides the Broken Hill community with the same water security as is currently enjoyed by the Wentworth community, injecting $50 million into the regional economy and generating up to 150 local jobs,” a spokeswoman for Mr Blair said.

“The NSW Government has carefully considered every possible option for securing the long-term water supply in Broken Hill and we are now in the process of delivering, with construction under way. 

“Unlike Labor, we have been finding solutions to secure the water supply of Broken Hill – we didn’t and won’t walk away from this community. 

“The construction of the pipeline is now well under way and we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders as this process continues throughout the year.”​

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