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Allowing fishing at Spring Creek Dam would cost $2 to $4 million, and thousands weekly to maintain

April 14, 2023

Stock image.

By Peter Holmes

Upgrading Spring Creek Dam to allow recreational fishing, canoeing and kayaking would likely cost between $2 million and $4 million, according to Orange City Council papers.

It would also cost $200,000 to $300,000 annually to maintain.

The estimate followed inquiries by councillor Steve Peterson in May 2022 about the possibility of building a jetty and allowing fishing in Suma Park Dam.

Eleven months after Peterson’s query, council staff have responded with an 80-page report for councillors to digest. They may need a schooner of Mylanta to get through it.

Peterson said water supplies were being used without authority anyway, and that it would be ideal to allow legal fishing.

He pointed to Chifley Dam in Bathurst and Googong Dam in Canberra as two water supplies that also allowed recreation.

The $2 million to $4 million estimate was based on installing a road, parking, signage, water entrance, rubbish bins, potable water, toilets and fish cleaning areas.

“I was a bit dismayed,” he said. “One thing I am learning about council is the price tag attached to all these things. It’s much more complex than I realise. I would've thought putting a jetty and a bin would have been fine, but apparently no, it’s more than that. But that’s OK, that’s what the feasibility study is about.”

Council focused on Spring Creek Dam rather than Suma Park Dam, as it meant any potential contamination issues would be limited to a secondary water supply.

Peterson said that to the best of his knowledge people who fished at Spring Creek Dam simply jumped a fence and wandered to the water’s edge.

Last May Peterson pointed to government grants that may have helped pay for upgrades to allow recreational fishing in Orange water supplies.

In that time new state and federal governments have been elected, but Peterson - who only eats fish under duress - said such grants come around regularly and that council should be prepared with a “shovel-ready” fishing and recreation project.

He said the Department of Primary Industry may be able to seed the creek with fish such as cod, trout and perch.

The matter will be discussed at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

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