The Liberals & Nationals Government is investing close to $50 million for water initiatives to help drought-affected communities in the New England region.
Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey, Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope and Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson, announced the investment would go to communities facing water shortages and water restrictions in the New England area.
Ms Pavey said the NSW Government has now invested over $130 million in water infrastructure projects since the beginning of the drought, including the allocation of $5.3 million in emergency funding to construct temporary weirs on the Peel River and pre-construction planning for a pipeline from Chaffey Dam.
“More than 50,000 people rely on the town water supply in Tamworth and they have been doing it particularly tough during this drought,” Ms Pavey said.
“With Chaffey and Dungowan Dams below 25 per cent capacity, Tamworth Regional Council is expecting to move to level five restrictions in the very near future.
“This is the worst drought we have ever seen. Over the past year we have experienced 1.3 per cent of the average inflows – 12GL, instead of the average 870GL. The investment will help secure water for Tamworth in the short and long term.”
Mr Tudehope said investing in water security was an investment in the local economy.
“When our farmers are hurting, so are the local economies and businesses like tradies, corner stores or cafes that our communities rely on,” Mr Tudehope said.
“Investments in local infrastructure means more local jobs and dollars spent in our local businesses.”
The package includes:
· Almost $39 million to deliver long-term water security solutions at Tamworth; This involves WaterNSW constructing a pipeline from Chaffey Dam to the existing Dungowan to Tamworth pipeline to help protect the city against future droughts;
· $3.5 million for WaterNSW to accelerate detailed option analysis to secure town water for the Upper Namoi including the communities of Barraba and Manilla.
· $1.45 million for off-stream storage infrastructure at Tamworth Regional Council’s Calala water treatment plant. This new 120ML storage will assist Council effectively and efficiently manage water supplied from the Peel River and through the pipeline from Dungowan Dam. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2020;
· $1.5 million for the detailed planning for Walcha’s long term security and to immediately construct infrastructure including pipeline to connect the town water supplies with an existing off-river storage. This infrastructure is also the Phase 1 of the longer term plan to build a new town water dam, as an off-river storage.
Mr Anderson said the Macdonald River had ceased flowing nine times in the past year and the small size of the current off-stream water storage meant Walcha residents were currently experiencing level 4 water restrictions.
“Walcha needs a much larger off-stream storage system that will serve to prolong the supply of drinking water for its residents when there are no significant inflows,” Mr Anderson said.
“This infrastructure will help us through this difficult time, but also prepare us for after the drought breaks. We’ll continue to work with and support Council with solutions that improve Walcha’s water security.”