The New South Wales and Federal Governments have announced they will each invest $3 million, for a total of $6 million, to investigate industrial water recycling in Tamworth.

The final business case to investigate building the state’s first regional industrial advanced water treatment plant would significantly reduce the amount of town water being used by four major commercial processing and manufacturing businesses by up to 12ML a day by treating and recycling water used for industrial purposes.

The benefits of recycling industrial water include:

  • Diversifying water sources to reduce demand on the town’s water supply
  • Improving long-term water security for the region, including during droughts
  • Unlocking economic growth for agricultural businesses so they can expand operations without putting more pressure on Tamworth’s water network
  • Addressing water salinity issues that impact water quality and the environment

The project is in partnership with Tamworth Regional Council who have already completed a lot of the initial groundwork via a strategic business case. 

It is being funded with $3 million from the Federal Government’s National Water Grid Fund and $3 million from the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment.

Separate from this initiative, the state government has announced a further $3 million in the 2023–24 Budget to deliver a strategic business case that will explore building intervalley pipelines and off-river storage to increase water supply and boost drought resilience for Tamworth.

The pipelines being considered would connect the city with Keepit or Split Rock Dams in the west and Manning Valley in the east to increase access to existing water sources.

Work on the industrial advanced water treatment plant business case has already begun, while the timeline for the pipelines and new water storage business case is still being finalised. Both projects are expected to take 18–24 months to complete.

These water infrastructure options were all shortlisted in the Namoi Regional Water Strategy which the New South Wales Government launched in 2023.

Federal Minister for Water, Tanya Plibersek, said, “In Tamworth, we know the four major food processors use 25 per cent of the town’s treated water supply.

“We need to look at how we can reduce the pressure on the system while supporting increasing demand.

“This project is an innovative way we can achieve this, and one where we have listened to the local council, just as I said we would at the Bush Summit in 2023.

“It could see the equivalent of almost five Olympic swimming pools of water recycled every day.

“We know Australia is a dry continent with limited water supply, so looking to do more with what we have through recycling is vital,” Ms Plibersek said.

New South Wales Minister for Water, Rose Jackson, said, “We want every New South Wales community to have water security and these investigations will help to determine the best solutions for the region.

“The promise of the Dungowan Dam was an empty promise that never stacked up.

“We are focused on a multi-pronged approach that allows us to increase water supply and security for the long-term.

“With the region already feeling the early impacts of the declared El Nino, we have no time to waste in getting on with the job to improve Tamworth’s long-term water security,” Ms Jackson said.

Featured image: Tamworth to investigate recycling industrial water. Courtesy of NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Assistant Editor, Utility magazine

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