Funds to water dry Willow Tree

WILLOW Tree residents living under the constant threat of water restrictions will finally get some peace of mind courtesy of a $4.8 million grant.

The NSW government announced yesterday that Liverpool Plains Shire Council’s (LPSC) application for the drought-proofing funding had been successful.

The money will be spent constructing a pipeline to feed water from Quirindi to Willow Tree to ease the village’s reliance on bore water drawn from a low-capacity aquifer.

A chronic lack of water security – evidenced in 2007 when villagers were placed on level-seven restrictions – has long inhibited Willow Tree’s growth and development potential.

But the pipeline will provide Willow Tree with water security equal to that of Quirindi, which has not been above level-two restrictions at any time in the last years.

LPSC works director Greg Tory said it was a tremendous day for the shire, with the government also making $380,000 available for vital works on Wallabadah’s supply.

“Willow Tree has been somewhat restricted, because of the restricted water source down there, to the amount of development it can sustain,” he said.

“A more reliable, high-capacity supply will open those type of opportunities up for the village.”

Noel Saunders, chairman of the Willow Tree Harvesting for the Future committee, said it was the “best news” he had heard in a long time.

“It’s fantastic ... I think we’ve done extremely well,” he said.

Former LPSC councillor Earl Kelaher also welcomed the grant, saying the village had suffered significantly over the years due to its inability to access the water it needed.

“We haven’t been able to have any development because we didn’t have water and we couldn’t try to put sewerage on, even though it’s a fairly small town,” he said.

Under the latest Water Security for Regions program, Glen Innes Shire Council received $970,000 for an off-stream storage project and Walgett Shire Council secured just under $4 million.

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