Work is progressing on the $47 million Wilcannia Weir, which will future-proof the town’s water supply, with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) now on public exhibition.
Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson said the NSW Government is investing $32 million along with the Australian Government’s $15 million to deliver greater water security and reliability to the town.
“When it comes to managing water in NSW my view is healthy rivers, healthy farms and healthy communities,” Mr Anderson said.
“Water is the lifeblood of rural Australia and rivers are the veins that keep remote communities like Wilcannia thriving. That is why the NSW Government is prioritising this project to future proof the town’s water supply.
“The current weir was built in 1942 by hand using simple stone blocks to hold back a pool of water to support the town’s water supply, but eight decades later it is no longer up to scratch.
“The new state-of-the-art weir will be fit for the 21st century and will generate social, economic and environmental benefits for the Wilcannia community by improving water flows downstream and using smarter engineering and technology to capture water in the weir that will be used by the community.”
The weir will be built approximately five kilometres downstream from the current weir.
It will be one metre higher than the existing weir and will include a crest, gates and a fishway to support downstream flows and enables native fish to travel up the river, supporting a healthier Darling River.
Minister for Western NSW Dugald Saunders said the project has been gaining momentum since 2021.
“The NSW Government has been carrying out extensive geo-technical, hydrological and environmental studies, surveys and assessments along with significant community consultation,” Mr Saunders said.
“The EIS will be on display until 14 August 2022 at key locations around Wilcannia. The NSW Government takes Wilcannia’s feedback seriously, which is why every submission will be considered carefully before finalising the details of the project.”
NSW Nationals Duty MLC for Western NSW Scott Barrett said the project will a big benefit to the local community.
“As part of our commitment to the Aboriginal Participation Plan, we introduced accredited TAFE training courses for Indigenous students to provide more education opportunities, ensuring they have the right qualifications to work on the weir project,” Mr Barrett said.
“We have already hired graduates who are helping to upgrade roads to improve access to the new weir site, while hospitality students have provided catering services for contractors, with more employment opportunities on the horizon.”
Central Darling Shire Council Administrator Bob Stewart said the new weir will reinvigorate Wilcannia.
“There is a feeling of optimism in the air because the weir project will help revitalise the Darling River, increase town water supply and boost the local economy creating jobs and unlocking new investment opportunities,” Mr Stewart said.
“The community is looking forward to the completion of this project as it has been talked about for 30 plus years and we welcome the long term benefits it will bring to the region.
“I would encourage everyone to participate in providing feedback on the EIS during the display period.”
Independent transcribers from the Department of Planning and Environment will be at the Wilcannia Community Hall between 21 and 26 July to record resident’s comments, making it easier for them to have a say.
Submissions can be made via the NSW Planning Portal at: planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/projects/on-exhibition