Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton (second from right) meets in Canberra Macquarie River Food and Fibre executive officer Susan Madden, and the Orana Regional Organisation of Council ‘s joint deputy chairman Cr Andrew Lewis and chairman Clr Bill McAnally for talks on the mooted new weather radar service for Central and Western NSW. Photo contributed.THE bid for a weather radar service in Central and Western NSW has been ramped up after the signing of an agreement on water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin by the Australian and NSW governments.
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The deal will pump $80 million into NSW coffers across eight years for “further infrastructure and water management projects, water resource plans and other activities”.

Premier Barry O’Farrell’s announcement on Wednesday of the historic signing got a quick response from the Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) and Macquarie River Food and Fibre (MRFF).

They are calling on the two governments to “commit some of this new funding” to the weather radar service.

The mooted project has been unable to “unlock” government funds despite campaigning by OROC and MRFF in the past year.

MRFF, the peak body for irrigators in the Macquarie Valley, backed OROC after it commissioned a study into the establishment of weather radar in the region, considered “poorly serviced” by the current Bureau of Meteorology network.

Its case studies covered the cost to Dubbo of not receiving “more accurate” warnings of flooding in December 2010, and the financial risks to farmers of unreliable forecasts.

The study, undertaken by independent consulting firm GHD with about $14,000 funding from Regional Development Australia Orana, led to requests for $2.5 million for Doppler radar technology

OROC and MRFF representatives joined federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton in Canberra in May 2013 “to further the push” for improved weather report.

They were “still waiting on the availability of funding” when the cashed-up Regional Economic Diversification Program was announced as part of the signing of the intergovernmental agreement on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

OROC chairman and Narromine mayor Bill McAnally said the Macquarie Valley, and the towns of Narromine, Trangie and Warren in particular, had been identified as having suffered serious social and economic disadvantage as a result of water buybacks that formed part of the Murray-Darling Basin water reform process.

“It is only fair that our region receives a share of the funding available to help communities adjust to this reform and to implement priority infrastructure projects,” he said.

Cr McAnally said the detailed benefit-cost analysis provided by GHD, supported the business case for the project.

MRFF executive officer Susan Madden said the benefits of the weather radar service would extend “well beyond the irrigation industry”.

“Dryland farmers and livestock producers as well as those involved in aviation and emergency management are some of the other community and industry groups that have joined us in support of a weather radar service that covers central and western NSW,” she said.

“The project is a no-brainer and we are now calling on the Australian and NSW governments to commit some of this new funding to make it happen.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.