Inland Rail water bores set to provide long-term benefits to Gilgandra Shire communities

The Australian Rail Track Corporation has entered into a partnership with the Gilgandra Shire Council to explore the drilling of four bores across the Gilgandra Shire over the next two years, as part of the Inland Rail project in the region.

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, Gilgandra Shire Council Acting Mayor Ash Walker and Inland Rail Project Director (Narromine to Narrabri) Duncan Mitchell

It is proposed that should the bores find a reliable source of water they will be used for the construction of Inland Rail and then be turned over to the Gilgandra Shire Council on completion of the major infrastructure project.

ARTC Inland Rail Chief Executive Officer Richard Wankmuller said that maximising local input by engaging with council to source the water needed for the project minimises risk and provides an avenue for better water access in the region.

 “The bore project and agreement is in response to community feedback around the sourcing of water for the project,” Mr Wankmuller said.

“There has been a common issue raised by landowners along the Narromine to Narrabri section of the project, who have been asking how we are going to source the water needed for the project’s construction.

“This has been understandable as New South Wales has been suffering under years of drought until recently and water is essential to these communities and farms.

“We wanted to put the minds of landowners at ease so we began discussions with Gilgandra Shire Council for the best solution.

“An initial investigation and desktop assessment conducted by an independent water and drilling specialist with decades of experience in the Central West NSW region, determined four locations where test bores will be sunk into the Pilliga Sandstone and Purlawaugh Sandstone aquifers to a depth between 200 and 280 metres for a pump test to be undertaken. 

“This will test the long-term viability of the bores and to monitor if there is any effect on neighbouring bores.

Gilgandra Shire Council Acting Mayor Ash Walker said Council has been an advocate for undertaking water investigations early in the construction process to improve outcomes for community stakeholders. 

“Finding secure water sources that don’t compete with existing stock and domestic bores has been a recurrent message from landholders”, Mr Walker said.

“This project enables Council to be part of achieving this outcome whilst leaving deep bore infrastructure and reliable water sources as a legacy to our community once construction is completed.

“It is Council’s intention that by having an active involvement in this process, we can play a leading role in communicating the findings to the community and provide opportunities for the community to learn more about the deeper aquifers in our region. 

“Construction will be a relatively short time period but this water infrastructure will be a positive legacy for our community for generations,” he said. 

Mr Wankmuller said Inland Rail would continue to tackle landholders concerns along the alignment.

“This is just one example of how Inland Rail is working with landowners along the alignment to mitigate issues that arise during the construction process,” he said.

“Communication and consultation are the cornerstones of Inland Rail. Ensuring we can establish a two-way flow of information between all parties affected by Inland Rail is how we will get the best result for communities and landowners along the alignment. 

 “We understand there are concerns that exist, and our engagement teams working on ground in these communities will continue to arrange for experts to talk with locals about their concerns.”

“We are trying to build the best rail line we can, and these water bores in Gilgandra Shire are just one example of what can be achieved when we all work together.”

A series of community information sessions regarding Inland Rail and the Narromine to Narrabri environmental impact statement (EIS) will be held in the coming weeks.

Caption: Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, Gilgandra Shire Council Acting Mayor Ash Walker and Inland Rail Project Director (Narromine to Narrabri) Duncan Mitchell.

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