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No major water price hike until at least 2026

It’s a concern for many Broken Hill residents – the fear water prices could rise dramatically if the NSW government decides to do away with the current subsidy to cover the cost of the Broken Hill pipeline, but we can all breathe a sigh of relief after confirmation the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline subsidy will continue until at least 2026.

Mayor Tom Kennedy contacted NSW Minister for Lands and Water, Kevin Anderson, seeking clarification over whether the current subsidy will be maintained.

Minister Anderson responded positively saying, “the NSW government will continue paying the subsidy to cover the regulated cost of the Broken Hill pipeline over IPART’s 2023-26 price determination period”.

Minister Anderson said he understood the importance of affordable water and sewerage services in Broken Hill and confirmed he would continue to advocate for the subsidy to continue.

We spoke with both Mayor Kennedy and State MP Roy Butler about the furore surrounding the pipeline subsidy and both said they were keen to assure Broken Hill residents they wouldn’t get hit in the back pocket for the cost of maintaining the pipeline.

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“The people of Broken Hill should never have to bear the capital cost of that pipeline and certainly, that is what I am working towards,” Shooters, Fishers, & Farmers MP Butler said.

“I have been speaking to the Mayor about this and there will be more to say in the coming weeks,” Mr. Butler told the Barrier Truth.

“That pipeline wasn’t something the people of Broken Hill asked for. It was a decision of government and therefore the people of Broken Hill shouldn’t have to bear the cost.”

Mayor Kennedy confirmed council was tackling the issue from their end too.

“Broken Hill residents and the Council both need the security of knowing there is a long-term subsidy,” he told us.

Both the Minister for Water and the shadow minister have been invited to attend a future council meeting to discuss the issue.

The Wentworth to Broken Hill Pipeline is a major piece of public infrastructure supplying up to 37.4 megalitres of raw water per day through a 270km pipeline from the River Murray near Wentworth to Broken Hill.

An initiative of the NSW State Government, construction began in January 2018 and was completed by the end of that year.

A majority of the buried pipeline runs alongside the Silver City Highway, with the last six kilometres running under the streets of Broken Hill until reaching the Mica Street Water Treatment Plant.

The pipeline uses four pumping stations constructed along the route, as well as a 720 megalitre bulk water storage facility 25km south of Broken Hill.

Before the pipeline’s construction, Broken Hill and surrounding communities often suffered from significant water shortages.

To find a long-term solution, the NSW government looked at potential options, and the Wentworth to Broken Hill Pipeline was identified as the best solution because provides the most reliable long-term water supply.

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