Adequacy of environmental assessment of the proposed Macquarie River pipeline to the city of Orange

Adequacy of environmental assessment of the proposed Macquarie River pipeline to the city of Orange

The city of Orange in central western New South Wales lies within the Macquarie River catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin. To meet increasing demand for water, a government subsidised pipeline project ($47 million capital cost, $728,000 per year running cost) is proposed to pump an average of 1,616ML yr-1 from the Macquarie River, 39km from Orange. This was subject to a legally required Environmental Assessment in August 2012, which modelled impacts of the development and concluded that a significant ecological impact on the Macquarie River was unlikely, and impacts on the downstream Ramsar-listed Macquarie Marshes were negligible.

We independently modelled flows and likely hydrological impacts, including downstream effects on flows to the river and the internationally significant Macquarie Marshes, listed under the Ramsar Convention. The Macquarie Marshes are already considerably affected by upstream development of water resources, causing the Australian Government to notify the Ramsar Bureau of a likelihood of a change in ecological character as a result of human impacts. There were three critical issues we identified as inadequately assessed in the Environmental Assessment, which could potentially exacerbate the poor ecological health of the Macquarie Marshes and adversely impact on the high conservation value section of Macquarie River at and downstream of the pump site.

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Project: 
Adequacy of environmental assessment of the proposed Macquarie River pipeline to the city of Orange
Research Programs: 
River Management
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