• Resident Graham Stacpoole captures the depleted Barwon River. (Graham Stacpoole via Facebook)
Mayor of Walgett, Ian Woodcock told NITV that residents of the town should have water by Friday night.
By
Madeline Hayman-Reber

Source:
NITV News
5 Jan 2019 - 8:42 AM  UPDATED 5 Jan 2019 - 8:42 AM

As a drought continues to ravage north-west New South Wales, residents living in Walgett have been left with no water at all.

A lighting strike which caused a blackout has led to the outage of a bore which has been the town's water supply since the Barwon and Namoi rivers dried up.

Speaking to NITV Radio's Danny Teece-Johnson on Friday, Gomeroi Elder Uncle Carb Walford expressed his concern for the community, currently sweltering in 40 degree heat.

“We had the filtration, there was a plant there, and apparently we had a little blackout or whatever and it mucked everything up in the computer system," Uncle Carb said.

Residents were told that the necessary replacement part to enable the operation of the bore was due to take 3 days to arrive.

"Now if that was going to take 3 days, the IGA and the deli and everything would be shut, the shops, the little shops around town would be shut," he said.

"They all need water to run. If there’s no water to run in the shops then we’re in trouble. It’s going to get to the point where we’re going to get evacuated, you never know."

But thankfully, Mayor Ian Woodcock told NITV on Friday afternoon that the bore was currently being fixed, and residents should have water in time for the weekend.

"They'll have water over the weekend, they should haven water by tonight," he said.

"You can't control lightning, that's all, that's just what happens, it fizzled out."

Although residents hold health concerns for the use of bore water, Mayor Woodcock, who lives in Lightning Ridge, said he has been drinking it all his life.

"According to the reports it's at a safe level, they say it's a bit salty and things like that, but I live in Lightning Ridge and we've been drinking it... and [so have] all of our western towns," he said.

"Some people don't like it, but if you've got to use it then it's better than nothing, isn't it."

Uncle Carb was critical of the Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, saying he could do more to fix the situation, including the completion of an extension to the weir to hold more water.

He believes had it been done initially, the situation could have been prevented.

“I reckon we can blame one of our local members Kevin Humphries, he’s one of the ones who is supposed to look after us out this way," Uncle Carb said.

"He’s one of the blokes we voted for to have him in that position and I reckon he’s more for the cotton farmers than he is for the people in Walgett."

Uncle Carb said he was disappointed with the lack of contact from Special Envoy for Drought Assistance, Barnaby Joyce, during the town's hardships.

“We haven’t seen Barnaby Joyce out in Walgett, well I’ve never seen Barnaby Joyce here. I’ve hardly seen Kevin Humphries here and they’re the two members we’ve got there," he said. "I think it might be the time for these people to come out.”

Mayor Woodcock confirmed that he had never been visited by Mr Joyce in Walgett Shire Council, but he does not hold him responsible for the present situation.

"If he can bring rain, then he's most welcome to come and bring it with him, but until such time as it rains there's not much we can do about it," he said.

"I mean, a lot of procedures can be put into place to ensure this type of thing never happens again."

Mayor Woodcock said that work on the new dam is set to begin in February this year.

NITV reached out to the offices of both Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott in their capacity as Special Envoy for Drought Assistance and Special Envoy for Indigenous Affairs respectively. Both were uncontactable. Meanwhile, an out-of-office response was received from the Member for Barwon's office.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to supply the community with fresh drinking water.