NSW Nationals Water Minister Melinda Pavey has welcomed the passage of the Water Supply (Critical Needs) Bill 2019 through NSW Parliament.

Mrs Pavey said the temporary legislation would allow the Government to fast-track water infrastructure projects where there is a critical town water supply need for the next two years.

“With 98 per cent of NSW in drought and a hot and dry summer on its way, it’s urgent that we accelerate the environmental planning assessment and approval times to secure water supply to those towns in need,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Whether I’m in Orange or Tamworth, people are telling me that we need to just get on with building more dams and pipelines.

“With the passing of this bill, the NSW Nationals in Government are doing just that, we’re getting shovels in the ground sooner.”

The Bill allows for the Wyangala Dam upgrade, the new Dungowan Dam, a proposed new dam on the Mole River and the Western Weirds Program to be assessed as Critical State Significant Developments under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

Deputy Premier and NSW Nationals Leader John Barilaro said the Dungowan Dam and other critical water infrastructure projects will be a game-changer for residents on Regional NSW.

“Improving water storage is critical to the longevity and growth of regional NSW and this temporary legislation allows us to get on with the job of building dams,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This legislation ensures that we are ready to capture water during the next downpour, which is key to securing water supplies in our regional communities.”

This new legislation will be in effect for two years and can only be extended by up to 12 months by the Water Minister, should towns continue to experience severe drought risks.

Since 2017 the NSW Nationals in Government have invested $1.8 billion into drought relief, providing assistance to the people of Regional NSW who need it most.