A massive project to droughtproof one of the biggest cities in New South Wales is moving forward.

Environmental approval has been awarded for the construction of a 37 kilometre pipeline connecting the Macquarie River with the city of Orange.

The project has hardly been on the fast-track, with a federal-state agreement for the $38 million bill agreed upon over three years ago. Orange residents were under some of the strongest water restrictions in the country.

Orange Mayor John Davis says: “I've got to thank my community for being very very patient for three-and-a-half years with our water restrictions and being very very co-operative in continuing to support this project... it's been three-and-a-half years of intense pressure on this project which is going to secure the water for Orange for the next 30, 35 years.”

There has been some opposition to the project, with many arguing that the Council was off in its estimates of the cost of the piped water, and the potential for devastating impacts on the Macquarie River and surrounding land.