The Liberals & Nationals Government will invest $78 million for water initiatives to help drought-affected communities in NSW.

In Dubbo today, Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey, alongside Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders announced the investment would go to communities facing water shortages and water restrictions in the Macquarie valley.

“NSW is experiencing the worst drought on record, and the NSW Government is continuing to work with communities to safeguard town water by investing in critical water initiatives, including new infrastructure,” Ms Pavey said.

“In June, I wrote to every Mayor in the state about the drought situation and how the NSW Government can support them as the water utility provider. This package is part of our support for our rural communities.

The package in the Macquarie Valley includes:

  • $10.89 million for the staged delivery of four critical projects that extend limited available supplies for Dubbo, Wellington, Nyngan and Cobar
  • $270,000 for Gilgandra Shire Council’s Tooraweenah New Bore project
  • Up to $5.5 million to partner with Orange City Council to plan for and deliver critical drought initiatives for their community such as pumping stations to enable the use of the Cowra to Orange pipeline
  • Up to $2 million to partner with Bathurst Regional Council plan for alternate water supplies 
  • Further funding to partner with Councils in the region, such as Parkes Shire Council, to review drought management plans and assist Councils with water efficiency projects and other initiatives required to help their community 
  • $30 million already allocated to Dubbo Regional Council to enhance their access to groundwater
  • $2 million to already allocated to Narromine Shire Council improve Narromine’s access to deeper groundwater
  • $2 million already allocated to Bogan Shire Council for critical maintenance of the Albert Priest Channel, and,
  • $8.24 million to Bogan Shire Council from the Safe and Secure Water Program to design and construct a second water storage in Nyngan.  

“More than 40,000 people rely on the town water supply in Dubbo, with seven bores currently providing about 30 per cent of the town’s water,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The new initiatives come on top of the $30 million already allocated over two years for an expansion of the South Dubbo bore field that will improve groundwater supply to supplement town water and alleviate the impact of drought.

“Another town doing it tough is Narromine whose 3,500 residents are currently on level 3 water restrictions. Due to the drought, the yield of Council bores has decreased. We’ve allocated $2 million to improve Narromine’s access to deeper groundwater in the area.”

This announcement is part of the $78 million critical drought initiatives that will see WaterNSW immediately build critical drought projects in the Macquarie, Upper Namoi, Peel and Border Rivers valleys. Funding will also go to partnership programs with local Councils in Tenterfield, Parkes, Gilgandra, Orange, Walcha and Bathurst.

“These communities, with a combined population of more than 180,000, are doing it the hardest. This infrastructure provide immediate benefit to the community,” Ms Pavey said.

Mr Saunders said the impact of the drought is being felt beyond farms and into local communities.

“Over $7 million will be invested to extend water availability in Macquarie River to Dubbo for over 4 months, with benefits being felt downstream of Burrendong and supporting major tourist attractions like the Taronga Western Plains Zoo,” Mr Saunders said.

“Dubbo is one of NSW biggest regional hubs; water security is vital to the town’s economy, local businesses and jobs.”

WaterNSW is investing in critical projects to extend water supplies in places like Dubbo, Cobar, Nyngan, Wellington and major employers, including the Western Plains Zoo, by at least another 10 months.

The work will involve:

  • Temporarily raising the Warren weir and building temporary structures in downstream creeks,
  • Planning for temporary pumping infrastructure that would be installed at Burrendong Dam to extract the water below the outlet valve, as a last resort,
  • Funding will also be made available to partner with Councils and plan for and deliver critical drought initiatives for towns like Orange, Bathurst, Tooraweenah and Parkes.

For further information on NSW Government’s drought support measures, visit