THE Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has shut down claims of “illegal action by Gunnedah Shire Council” (GSC) over the Curlewis pipeline project.
It comes after local resident Owen Johns said in a letter to the NVI that GSC “may have to reconsider its proposal, as it would seem to contravene the ‘Upper Namoi Groundwater Sharing Plans’ rules as of 1998 - 2000”.
But a DPI Water spokesperson and GSC spokesperson both confirmed the claims are incorrect.
The $5.2 million project is the result of an ongoing push to fix issues with the Curlewis water supply, which stem back as far back as 2011 when consultants GHD provided a water security assessment.
Mr Johns feared if GSC were in contravention of the plan that it would set a precedent for other water users.
“These rules clearly state that groundwater allocated in one zone, cannot be transferred or traded into another in the Upper Namoi System,” Mr Johns said in the letter.
“As Gunnedah lies in zone 4 and Curlewis in zone 3, water transferred from, and pumped in zone 4, piped to Curlewis, whether inadvertently or by intent, would be an illegal action by GSC.”
A GSC spokesperson told the NVI they had received verbal indication that the claims made were incorrect and that they were “seeking written confirmation from the department”.
Gunnedah town water is supplied by 11 alluvial bores and Curlewis’ water is supplied by two bores.
The Water Sharing Plan for the Upper and Lower Namoi Groundwater Sources 2003 prohibits trade of shares or allocations between groundwater sources except under specific circumstances. This restriction would not affect the operation of the Curlewis pipeline.
Water sharing plans, such as the Water Sharing Plan for the Upper and Lower Namoi Groundwater Sources 2003, establish extraction limits, access and trade arrangements for each groundwater source, taking into account the requirements of the environment.
The plan rules control extraction at the designated work approval. Once water is extracted, the licence holder has choice in how they use that water within certain conditions of their licence.
“Water sharing plans ... provide an ecologically sustainable and assured supply of quality groundwater,” a DPI Water spokesperson said.
“Water sharing plans establish extraction limits for each groundwater source, taking into account the requirements of the environment.”