18 January 2022

Agreement paves the way for water levels in Lake Albert to be maintained

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Water skiing on Lake Albert

Wagga Wagga City Council is working to maintain permanent water levels in Lake Albert. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Wagga Wagga’s much loved Lake Albert will be topped up each winter in a bid to keep the water level relatively high, even in the hottest and driest summers.

Wagga Wagga City Council has been working with the NSW Government to find a way to maintain permanent water levels in Lake Albert.

In March 2021, council and the government entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which identified the solution and how it is going to be delivered. Under the MOU, the NSW Government will issue a licence to council to authorise the transfer of water from Murrumbidgee River to Lake Albert.

The licence will be subject to a range of conditions including how much and when the water can be transferred. It is envisaged whatever losses are experienced through evaporation during summer will be replaced the following winter under the new arrangement.

The former NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey confirmed in October 2021 that the government was actioning its commitments and said she had directed legislation be put in place to create the agreed licence.

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Wagga Wagga City Council general manager Peter Thompson said a recent reshuffle of the NSW Government Cabinet had not affected council’s plans to build the pipeline.

“I have reached out to the new Minister for Water, Kevin Anderson, and I’m pleased to say it’s business as usual in regards to our plans for Lake Albert and the pipeline,” he said.

“Council thanks the former minister, Melinda Pavey, for the work she did in getting us to the point where council had confidence to move forward under the MOU.

“Minister Anderson is supportive of the agreement we have in place.”

Council is working with Riverina Water County Council to complete the design of the pipeline and where it will draw water from the river.

The only piece of the puzzle which remains to be solved is a source of funding to build the pipeline. Sourcing this funding is the focus of funding applications to the state and federal governments.

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Mr Thompson said that he expects the pipeline to be completed and functioning in 2022.

“We originally aimed for April this year but that was dependent upon funding,” he said.

“We don’t yet have funding, but will continue to pursue our options and our most current submission will be through the latest round of the Federal Government’s ‘Building Better Regions Fund’ which closes in coming weeks.”

Under the MOU, council will have authority to draw up to 1.8 gigalitres of water from the river to the lake provided it meets the conditions of the licence, which includes when the water is transferred and how much is transferred on any single day.

Water cannot be transferred between the months of October and March, and the amount transferred on any day must not exceed the amount of water discharged by council to the river on that same day.

The pipeline is expected to solve Lake Albert’s long-term issues with low water levels and blue green algal blooms, and help woo major watersports back to Wagga Wagga.

More sailors have already returned to the city after recent heavy rain lifted water levels at the popular recreation spot.

Original Article published by Kim Treasure on About Regional.

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