$1.2m plan to block water for drought stricken farmers
Water may be dammed in a NSW river at risk of running dry to give drought stricken farmers who have had to watch environmental flows flood past them a reprieve.
The $1.2 million plan to put a "block bank" in the Lachlan River has been developed amid fears the artery may run dry as early as March.
Farmers along the banks had to watch 22 billion litres was flushed out of Wyangala Dam into the river by the federal water authority to feed a swamp in September.
NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said last night the state now faced a "worse environmental outcome" because the water had been flushed away at the behest of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
Wyangala dam has dipped to just 14.6 per cent capacity.
Without human intervention the river is expected to stop flowing in March.
An option under consideration is building a "block bank" which would effectively shorten the river.
This would cost in excess of $1.2 million and would be built west of Condobolin, a government source said.
They added that many of the major dairy farms are located above the proposed block bank location.
A furious Ms Pavey said these were "devastating times with record low rainfall and record high temperatures".
"I want to reassure people out there that are experiencing the worst of this terrible situation that we are doing everything we can to ensure water security for our communities," she said.
"It is outrageous that water for the environment was thrown down the river without any consideration for our communities.
"In the long term this was more detrimental to the environment. Now we are facing a worse environmental outcome."
The Daily Telegraph revealed the details of the mammoth environmental release of water down the Lachlan River in October.
At the time, Ms Pavey noted the volume of water could have supplied the towns along the river for a year.
The Commonwealth Environment Water Holder defended its actions saying the release had helped the river's eco system, including keeping catfish, crayfish and freshwater shrimp alive.