New nominee for Water Board has background in water law

State Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries has put forward Warren solicitor Doug McKay to take on the vacant role of the Cobar Water Board president.

Mr Humphries and the NSW Office of Water have nominated Mr McKay for the position to the Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Lands and Water, Niall Blair.

“Given the amount of funding coming into Cobar and the options that are being looked at regarding piping water from outside the shire, it’s important the person in that position knows the region,” Mr Humphries said.

Currently working as a solicitor in Warren, Mr McKay has a rural background with an interest in water law.

He is also actively involved with the Warren Chamber of Commerce, has served on various committees and boards and has acted as an advisor on water efficiency programs.

For the 10 past years Mr McKay has been involved in local water licencing and water legal issues and also has a knowledge of the Albert Priest Channel and Bogan water systems.

Mr Humphries said Mr McKay has shown a keenness for the position.

“A number of people in Cobar were approached but were not interested in taking on the role.

“We were looking for someone with strong governance skills who knows the area well and I’m confident we have found that in Doug,” Mr Humphries said.

Established in 1963, the Cobar Water Board is a statutory authority with the purpose of supplying bulk water to Cobar Shire Council (for subsequent treatment and distribution to the town of Cobar) and the local mining companies.

The Water Management Act 2000 requires that the board consist of seven part-time members appointed by the Governor.

Currently Mayor Lilliane Brady, Cr Peter Yench and Cr Tracey Kings represent Cobar Shire Council along with CSA mine representative Tanya Gilbert, Peak Gold Mines representative Tony Lord and Endeavor Mine representative Phil Gilligan sit on the board.

The president of the board is nominated by the Minister for Primary Industries and they act as the public persona of the board.

They serve as an independent chair, conduct meetings, take part in the board’s audit and financial matters, and act as the board’s delegate.

They may hold the position for up to five years.

The board currently meets on a quarterly basis but members are also occasionally required to attend additional special meetings while some meetings may be conducted via email.

The president’s position has been vacant since last October following the resignation of Steve Viant from the role just prior to his family’s relocation to Victoria.

Before Mr Viant, the president’s role was held by ex-Cobar mayor Werner Muhlethaler and prior to that the role had been held by senior government department officials.

Over time it was determined the role could best be filled by a person who knew the water industry well and someone who also knew the Cobar Shire.

Board members volunteer their time and receive only a small annual fee which covers their fuel and meals costs.

Mr McKay is already well known to a number of the Cobar Water Board members and he is keen to come to Cobar to meet with the board in the near future.

At the Cobar Water Board’s last meeting on June 11, the board resolved to note Mr McKay’s nomination.