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Fishing at Suma Park Dam on council agenda

Stock image.

By Peter Holmes

Councillor Steve Peterson will move a motion at next Tuesday night's council meeting asking staff to investigate the possibility of building a jetty for fishing at Suma Park Dam.

Peterson will ask staff to prepare a report on "the feasibility and impacts of fishing in Suma Park Dam if a jetty was constructed".

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"During the federal election campaign, a pledge to upgrade 100 fishing and camping facilities nationwide was announced," Peterson said in his notice of motion.

"This was an extension of an existing recreational fishing and camping facilities program.

"I wish to investigate the possibility of Orange taking advantage of this program or a similar program that may occur in the future. Preparation in advance could assist with being successful."

Peterson foreshadowed potential "complications" including the impact on water quality.

"Although cattle currently drink and walk in the intake Summer Hill Creek," he added.

We asked The Orange News Examiner's graphics department to imagine Suma Park Dam with fishing. This is what they came up with. Orange City Council/digitally altered.

"Access to council-owned land for the jetty would need to be considered. I am aware that some land does exist alongside Icely Road. I would be grateful to know of any potential additional costs borne by council if the infrastructure was covered by a grant - hence seeking a report."

Council staff responded to Peterson with what might be described as not a great deal of enthusiasm, stating: "If it is Council’s wish, we can have staff prepare a full report for council’s consideration of this proposal, however, another option may be to explore what opportunities are available for funding the current unfunded Plans of Management for our two recreational dams of Gosling Creek and Lake Canobolas."

It said considerations for fishing at Suma Park Dam would include:

a) the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines principle that the “protection of water sources and treatment are of paramount importance and must never be compromised”;

b) Opening up the storage to public access may involve upgrades to the drinking water purification process at Icely Road Water Treatment Plant, including ultraviolet light disinfection;

c) The current Plan of Management (PoM) restricts public use of the site to protect water quality from pollutants, damage to infrastructure, protect public safety and reduce management costs.

"The PoM will need to be amended and include controls and infrastructure such as regular maintenance, rubbish collection, controlled access and amenities to minimise risk to water quality," staff said.

d) The current Local Environmental Plan (LEP) land zoning is for water supply purposes and recreational use is not permissible under this zoning. The LEP will need to be amended in order to rezone the site to Public Recreation RE1. The surrounding private land is zoned E3 Environmental Management;

e) Access and amenities to the site - while it is noted in the background commentary that there is access to the dam via Icely Road for a short strip, this is considered to be the upper reaches of the dam and does not always have year round access to water frontage.

"As such, this site is not recommended for access," staff said.

Staff stated that a "similar report to Council in 2019 on Spring Creek Dam estimated the cost of upgrading access and amenities inclusive of parking, roads, pathways, toilets, bins, etc… was in the order of $1,500,000 and $3,000,000."


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