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On May 10th, 2023, the New South Wales Government announced that it will not proceed with the Dungowan Dam project, following advice from various experts and agencies after the Federal Government withdrew funding.

In the coming weeks, the New South Wales Government will be releasing the final Namoi Water Strategy, which will outline the path forward and plan to improve water security in the region.

New South Wales Minister for Water, Rose Jackson, said the move will save New South Wales taxpayers $632 million and would enable the New South Wales Government to look at more affordable and effective water security options for the region.

“We know there is a major water security issue in this region and we are committed to addressing it but at the end of the day the numbers didn’t stack up,” Ms Jackson said.

“Both Infrastructure New South Wales and Infrastructure Australia had serious concerns about the cost-benefit ratio of the new Dungowan Dam and did not recommend putting this project on the infrastructure priority list, and now the Australian Government has pulled funding for the project.

“On top of this, I have always had serious concerns about the viability of the project because it would take ten years to build and fill the new dam, putting the region’s shorter term water security at serious risk.”

Ms Jackson said it is going to take more than just a new dam to solve the water security issues for Tamworth. 

“I am now receiving briefings from my department on a range of infrastructure and non-infrastructure options that could be implemented within a shorter timeframe,”  Ms Jackson said.

Some of these options include advanced water treatment plants, purified recycled water facilities along with water efficiency and demand management options to make existing water supplies go further.

The other ideas on the table include intervalley pipelines from the west of Tamworth between Keepit Dam or Split Rock Dam and from the east of Tamworth from the Manning Valley. There are also off-river storages and better use of the reserve in Chaffey Dam in the mix.

“We need to investigate every option and whatever decisions we make will be based on evidence, including state-of-the-art climate science, so Tamworth is in a stronger position to manage water in a drier climate.” Ms Jackson said.

The New South Wales and Federal Government’s funding for stage one of the pipeline has not been impacted by the Federal Budget. 

The pipeline is due for completion mid-2023.

Feature image: Dungowan Dam project. Provided by NSW Government.

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