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Moving water to Armidale by train, as is being done elsewhere, is something the NSW Government will consider should this drought show no sign of breaking if this region is forced to face the prospect of a dry Malpas Dam towards the end of next year.
NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the government was certainly looking at doing that out in Western NSW.
"We're looking at doing that at communities like Cobar and Nyngan as an emergency situation," he said.
"Out there, of course, the lay of the land is very flat.
"You can load up the trains quite heavily and push and pull them along because of the flat terrain."
Southern Shorthaul Railroad (SSR) carries 725,000 litres of water from Charbon Mine to Airlie Mine each day. By road, tankers have a capacity of about 17,000 litres each load.
Two SSR crew members start by hooking up 10 hoses to 10 tank containers, and repeat that process three times for the length of the train at the mine's Charbon facility.
It takes about two hours to fill all 30 rail carts with the 725,000 litres of water. They unload in about the same time, pouring water into Airlie's storage dam.
Although Mr Marshall knew it was being done elsewhere, he said it needed to be remembered that Armidale was 1000 metres above sea level, and water was very heavy.
"This has never been put to me," he said.
"I suspect our first backup would be ground water supplies, which is now being looked at by Armidale Regional Council.
"But, if that doesn't work, then someone would need to run the ruler over this proposal and see if it's viable and physically able to be done."
From Armidale, the water could be trucked to Malpas Dam, which could supply both Guyra and Armidale via the new pipeline about to be opened.
This article first appeared on www.armidaleexpress.com.au
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