History of Central Tablelands Water

The Central Tablelands County Scheme was originated by the late F.C. Rowlands, a councillor on Waugoola Shire (now part of Cowra Shire), when he attended a meeting of the Lyndhurst Shire Council on 1st February, 1938. Cr. Rowlands requested the co-operation of Lyndhurst Shire in furthering his aims to obtain a water supply for Carcoar, Mandurama, Lyndhurst and Woodstock and possibly Blayney and Millthorpe.

The original proposal was to place a dam on the Belubula River near Carcoar and pump the water to a reservoir on Mount Macquarie, which would ultimately supply the towns to the south by gravitation and to the north by a pumping system.

The first meeting with the Minister for Works and Local Government, Mr. Spooner, was held at Orange on 14th February, 1938. Lyndhurst was represented by Councillors Innes, Amos and Brady, whilst Waugoola was represented by F.C. Rowlands and Councillor Goodacre. The Minister undertook to make 200 ($400) available to cover the costs for a preliminary investigation by consulting engineers. The offer was made subject to the condition that if the two Councils concerned did not proceed with the proposed scheme then they would repay the amount within three years.

A joint committee representing Waugoola and Lyndhurst Shires conferred with Mr. Davey of Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey, Consulting Engineers, at Carcoar on 2nd May, 1938. Estimates and reports were submitted dealing with sixteen different proposals including a supply for Cowra, Forbes, Grenfell, Canowindra and Eugowra in addition to the towns in Waugoola and Lyndhurst Shires.

After consideration the Committee decided that interest should be shown only in the scheme for Waugoola and Lyndhurst Shires and it recommended the acceptance of a proposal to serve Millthorpe, Blayney, Carcoar, Mandurama, Lyndhurst and Woodstock at an estimated cost of 107,000 ($214,000). The proposal was subject to the making of a satisfactory arrangement with the State Government regarding finance and the apportionment of the debt between the two areas.

The Government Lends a Hand 

On 30th May, 1938, a deputation visited Mr. Spooner in Sydney. The Minister advised that he favoured the proposal to serve the larger area, including Cowra, Forbes, Grenfell, Canowindra and Eugowra, provided it could be carried out economically.

A conference convened by Mr. Spooner was held at Canowindra on 25th July, 1938. The report prepared by the Department covered supply to Millthorpe, Blayney, Eugowra, Greenethorpe, Cowra, Forbes, Bogan Gate, Trundle, Tullamore and Tottenham by gravitation from a dam placed on the Coombing Creek.

At this conference it was decided to form an investigation committee consisting of two delegates from the Municipalities of Forbes, Grenfell and Cowra and the Shires of Lyndhurst, Boree, Waugoola, Goobang, Lachlan, Weddin and Jemalong. The first meeting of the investigation committee was held at Canowindra on 31st August, 1938. All councils were represented, except Cowra Municipal Council.

Grenfell and Forbes representatives submitted a proposal for operation of the scheme which provided for each constituent council to pay the equivalent of 18 shillings per capita to a supply authority for bulk supply of water. It would then be up to each council to levy sufficient rates to provide for local administration and distribution costs in addition to the charge for bulk supply.

The council representatives met with Mr. Spooner at Orange again on 16th November, 1938. At this conference the Minister accepted a proposal that the per capita payment of eighteen shillings for bulk supply for all towns excluding Cowra be the basis of operation. Agreement was also made that the Government would make 5,000 ($10,000) available to the Lyndhurst Shire for preliminary engineering costs.

The Minister instructed the Engineers to proceed with the preparation of designs to the stage where tenders could be called for the work. The estimated cost of the works excluding provision of supply for Cowra was 507,000 ($1,014,000).

Early Setbacks 

Upon Mr. Spooner relinquishing office as Minister in August, 1939, he was succeeded by Mr. L.O. Martin. A deputation called on Mr. Martin on 24th October, 1939 and were faced with a considerable setback. The deputation was informed that the Minister was not satisfied with the practicability of the scheme and that he was not prepared to commit the Government until further departmental investigation had been carried out.

In April, 1940, Jemalong Shire withdrew from the scheme. Jemalong Shire comprised the rural areas around the town of Forbes and was amalgamated with Forbes Municipal Council in 1977.

In March, 1941, Weddin Shire also advised the Committee of its withdrawal. This action was followed in May, 1941, by the withdrawal of the Forbes Municipal Council. A deputation visited Forbes on 29th May, 1941, to discuss the County Scheme and the attitude of the Forbes Council, but was not admitted for interview. Tensions mounted with other councils.

In March, 1942, the Premier (Mr. McKell) advised that it was not possible for the Government to consider funding the scheme with the withdrawal of Forbes. But he did promise that the Government would give "earnest and sympathetic consideration" to a scheme to serve the other towns.

At a meeting held on 2nd April, 1942, the committee considered a scheme to terminate at Grenfell and Eugowra. The estimated cost was 310,000 ($620,000) with a reduced dam capacity, or 321,000 ($642,000) with the dam being retained at its original height. The Consulting Engineers estimated the total per capita cost at 38 shillings 4 pence as compared with 35 shillings under the original proposal. The meeting was also informed that if the original pipe sizes were retained in order to provide for future increases in population the cost would probably be to the order of 400,000 ($800,000).

A deputation was appointed to visit the Premier to submit the new proposal and asked for early construction of the section from Gooloogong to Grenfell, so as to provide a temporary supply for Grenfell from the Gooloogong source. The deputation met with the Premier on 29th April, 1942.

A County is Born 

At a meeting on 16th June, 1943, a letter was received from the Premier intimating that the Government had approved the new scheme in principle and that it would subsidise the proposal. The approval, and the subsidy, were both subject to a County Council being constituted to take over control of the project. The approval was also subject to the new County Council levying a rate equivalent to 25 shillings per capita. The Committee rejected the proposal and asked the Government to honour Mr. Spooner's acceptance of a rate of 18 shillings per capita.

On 27th June, 1943, the Town and Shire Clerks of the constituent areas conferred with departmental officers and met with the Minister, Mr. McGirr, on the following day. The only outcome of this conference was that it was agreed that if a County Council was constituted the Government would immediately make a grant of 60,000 ($120,000) available for the construction of the Gooloogong-Grenfell section.

At a meeting on 6th October, 1943, a letter was received from the Minister advising "that having regard to the liberal assistance which the Premier had offered he did not feel justified in recommending to the Premier that any reduction be made in the per capita rating of twenty five shillings". The committee decided to accept the offer as made and asked that each Council delegate its powers so as to constitute a County Council.

The final meeting of the investigation committee was held on 27th October, 1943, when it was decided to recommend that each Council be allowed two delegates as representation upon the County Council.

The proclamation of the County District was published in the Government Gazette on 28th January, 1944, and the area as constituted comprised the Municipality of Grenfell and the Shires of Lyndhurst, Waugoola, Boree, Goobang and Lachlan. The first meeting of the County Council was held at Canowindra on Wednesday, 9th February, 1944.

The whole of Weddin Shire and part of Burrangong Shires were added to the County District by Proclamation dated 28th June, 1946.

Getting Down to Business 

The first work undertaken by the Council was commenced on 21st October, 1944. This was the construction of a pipeline from the Lachlan River at Gooloogong to Grenfell. Water was urgently needed at Grenfell, particularly to operate a newly-built sewerage system. The construction of this pipeline was also designed to cater for the expanding population.

The County Council, on 1st January, 1945, assumed responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the water supply systems at the towns of Blayney, Canowindra, Grenfell and Lake Cargelligo.

Although the original plan for the County District was disrupted to some extent by the withdrawal of several areas, i.e. Forbes, Cowra and Jemalong, further investigation was carried out into the needs of the various towns within the County area and how those needs could best be met. In April, 1945, investigation was made of a proposal to supply water to the townships of Cargo, Cudal and Manildra.

In 1946 application was made to the Governor for the inclusion of the Municipalities of Parkes, Forbes and Cowra within the County District, but the application was withdrawn.

The Scheme Takes Shape 

The County Scheme as proposed provided for the construction of water supply services under three sections, namely:

A - to serve Millthorpe, Blayney, Carcoar, Mandurama, Lyndhurst, Woodstock, Canowindra, Gooloogong, Grenfell, South Canowindra, Morebel, Somers and Eugowra.

B - to serve Gunningbland, Bogan Gate, Trundle, Tullamore, Albert and Tottenham, and

C - to serve Wattamondara, Koorawatha, Crowther, Noonbinna, Bendick Murrell, Greenethorpe, Wirrimah.

D-Section, i.e. Cargo, Cudal and Manildra was added later.

It was proposed that the "A" section would be served from the lake Rowlands source, and this would be further extended to meet the requirements of the "D" section. "B" section would be supplied from the Lachlan River by Forbes Municipal Council and "C" section from the Lachlan River by Cowra Municipal Council. This required arrangements to be made with the relevant Councils for bulk supply.

Work upon the "A" Section of the County Scheme was commenced in 1946, as was the Trundle temporary scheme. The temporary scheme was installed to meet the requirements of Trundle until such time as the "B" section proposal was implemented and the Trundle scheme and "B" section were integrated.

At this time the subsidy agreed to be paid by the Government to the County District was to be calculated at the sum of 38 shillings 9 pence per capita and it was anticipated that a rate of approximately 30 shillings per capita would be necessary to meet Council's commitments.

In 1948 Council approved of the carrying out of works for the supply of water from local sources to the villages of Tullibigeal, Burcher and Darbys Falls and this was followed in 1951 by the implementation and placing in service of a local scheme at Fifield.

Construction is Completed 

Construction of the Dam upon the Belubula River and the creation of Lake Rowlands allowed the first supply from this source to be made available to the village of Mandurama on 3rd March, 1953. Completion of the Lake Rowlands Dam was finally effected on 3rd July, 1953.

The "A" section of the County Scheme was completed in November, 1956. The attention of Council was then directed to the "D" section for the supply to Cargo, Cudal and Manildra.

1957 was a year of extreme drought and fully tested the capabilities of the new water supply. The Council was able to claim with some pride that the system managed to meet the demands placed on it, and water was available to meet the urgent need of landholders who were situated outside the reticulated area. Service was able to be maintained without the need for restrictions to be applied.

On the 31st October, 1958, the Minister for Public Works advised that approval had been granted for the construction of both "B" and "C" Sections of the District Scheme, allowing Council to plan for commencement of both projects.

On the 13th February and 30th April, 1959, deputations from Council called upon the Director of Public Works and Officers of the Treasury Department, seeking greater subsidy assistance for the "B" and "C" Section projects. It was considered that the development of these projects, designed to serve uneconomic but dry areas, merited special consideration.

An offer was eventually made by the Government of 75% subsidy towards the capital cost of these works. This subsidy rate applied during the period of construction and for five years after each section was brought into use. At the end of this time the subsidy reduced to 50%.

One of the conditions attached to the granting of subsidy was the application of uniform rating to avoid differentiation in the various Sections of the County Scheme.

Completion of the "D" Section and the turning on of supply for the towns of Cargo, Cudal and Manildra was made on 20th November, 1959.

The County Consolidates 

In February, 1960, a proposal was received from Peak Hill Municipal Council to extend the Forbes-Tottenham System ("B" Section) to supply water to Peak Hill from a take-off point at Bogan Gate. It was also proposed that the Municipalities of Parkes and Peak Hill should be included in the County Council. Examination of this proposal showed it to be uneconomic.

In September, 1960, an application was made to the Minister for the inclusion of the Municipalities of Cowra, Forbes and Parkes in the County. In early 1961, a hearing before a Commissioner appointed by the Minister found against the County Council. The exclusion from the County District of the these towns, and later Condobolin, was resented by the people of the more sparsely populated areas, who thought that these areas should be joined with the smaller towns and villages in sharing the costs of providing public water supplies.

From that point construction and new developments occupied an ensuing period of about 15 years. In 1961 booster pumping was provided at Gooloogong and Canomidine to maintain supply to the ends of the system. In 1968 a bore field at Bangaroo was developed to feed the western end of the system, thus reducing the demand on Carcoar Filtration Plant.

Further development of groundwater resources took place in 1977 when the Gooloogong bore was installed, with the result that the Bangaroo bore field could be used to increase supply to Canowindra.  A standby bore was installed at Gooloogong in 1987 to provide security for that system.

Numerous rural schemes were constructed as well, including the Westville, Nyrang Creek, Brundah, Trajere, North Canowindra, Billimari and Wirrimah schemes.

The eventual withdrawal of Lachlan and Parkes Shires from the County in 1989, followed by the withdrawal of Cowra Shire in 1992, has reduced the number of constituent councils to 3. The County area presently embraces the Shires of Blayney, part of Cabonne and Weddin.

In 1991 investigation began into the augmentation of the Cudal and Manildra water supplies. In 1993 the old Blayney Well was recommissioned to provide additional water to Blayney.