A plan to preserve Lake Albert’s water level has been held up by bureaucracy despite impending rain, Wagga Council has said.
Councillors last month endorsed a plan to use three temporary gates on Tatton Drain to redirect water during storm events.
Lake users told councillors at the meeting that the measure was needed to prevent the lake depth falling and resulting environmental and economic damage.
On Tuesday, Council general manager Peter Thompson said the NSW government’s Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) had put a halt to this week’s planned work.
“We should be here celebrating...a result, at least on a temporary basis, to alleviate what we saw last season: algal bloom and fish kills,” he said.
“But the brakes have been put on and we’re not going anywhere because the state government has determined that Tatton Drain is actually a water course.
“Because (of that) we need to follow the path of getting approvals and a water licence.”
Lake Albert Forum member Gary Williams said NRAR’s stance was “absolutely disappointing”.
“The community, I believe, through the councillors and the council, were fully behind the project,” he said.
“We thought it was going to go ahead, we were happy that there was a possibility to save the lake from what’s looking like an environmental train wreck on the way.
“It appears now that regulation is getting in the road. It is always a worry when regulation does not support community expectations and needs.”
Mr Thompson said NRAR staff would travel from Dubbo on 15 October to inspect Tatton Drain as part of the approval process but the lake “will now miss any looming storm event”.
An NRAR spokesperson said “an approval may be required for works that restrict or alter flows in a water source, as they have the potential to impact downstream water users and the environment”.
“In assessing any proposal, impacts on other landholders as the result of any works will be considered.”
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