$1 bil­lion for first dam in 30 years

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - JACK MORPHET

BUSH towns run­ning out of wa­ter in the state’s worst ever drought will ben­e­fit from a $1 bil­lion res­cue pack­age, which in­cludes NSW’s first new dam in three decades.

Af­ter weeks of spec­u­la­tion about a new dam to se­cure the long-term sur­vival of coun­try towns and farm­ers, The Sun­day Tele­graph can re­veal a new reser­voir will be built at Dun­gowan, near Tam­worth.

Wyan­gala Dam in the state’s Cen­tral West will also be ex­panded by 50 per cent.

Ex­actly when shov­els will go in the ground will de­pend on the plan­ning process, but the NSW gov­ern­ment last week promised to de­clare new dams “crit­i­cal state sig­nif­i­cant in­fra­struc­ture” to pre­vent drawn-out — and p po­ten­tially controvers­ial — pub­lic hear­ings.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son said dams weren’t built overnight but “we’re work­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble”.

“Our re­sponse to the on­go­ing drought im­pact­ing ru­ral and re­gional com­mu­ni­ties is com­pre­hen­sive and com­mit­ted,” he said.

“It deals with im­me­di­ate needs for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance and longer-term in­vest­ments to build drought re­silience for the fu­ture.”

The state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments will equally split the $1 bil­lion bill for the new and ex­panded dams, af­ter in­tense lob­by­ing from Pre­mier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian and Deputy Pre­mier John Bar­i­laro. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s $500 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion will free up funds for the state to build bores and pipe­lines to stop towns run­ning dry in the short term.

The new Dun­gowan Dam above Tam­worth will be worth $480 mil­lion and will se­cure long-term wa­ter sup­ply for 62,000 district res­i­dents and farms in the Peel Val­ley, which is ex­pected to run out of wa­ter by June with­out sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall or in­ter­ven­tion.

The new Dun­gowan Dam will be more than three-anda-half times the size of the ex­ist­ing dam, which will be knocked down once the re­place­ment is built down­stream. It will be the first new dam in NSW since Split Rock dam was built near Tam­worth in 1987.

The Wyan­gala Dam will be raised by 10m at a cost of $650 mil­lion, in­creas­ing its ca­pac­ity by the equiv­a­lent of an­other Syd­ney Har­bour.

Wyan­gala sup­plies wa­ter to 34,000 homes along the Lach­lan River, in­clud­ing homes in Forbes and Cowra, a re­gion fore­cast to run dry by March next year.

There will also be an ini­tial $24 mil­lion for a busi­ness case into a 100,000 me­gal­itre dam on the Mole River near the Queens­land bor­der.

Ms Bere­jik­lian said dams were an im­por­tant in­sur­ance pol­icy against drought.

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