THE long-held $50 million dream to upgrade Chaffey Dam and secure Tamworth’s water supply for the next four decades is set to become a reality.
The complex process of raising the dam’s wall to increase storage capacity from 62,000 megalitres to 100,000 megalitres will begin within months.
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place yesterday when
construction firm John Holland was unveiled as the contractor responsible for the works.
John Holland, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leighton Holdings, not only built the dam back in the 1970s, but completed a $13 million upgrade in 2011.
The project endured a difficult gestation period and was nearly completely derailed by the presence of an endangered frog species in the area.
So it was four very relieved politicians – representing the federal, state and local tiers of government that were on hand yesterday to make the announcement.
The state government provided $27 million, the federal government $18 million and Tamworth Regional Council $4 million to make the upgrade possible.
“This is a momentous day,” said Tamworth deputy mayor Russell Webb. “We have been waiting a long, long time for this and the community welcomes this signing.”
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the project had been a key promise of the Coalition government prior to the 2011 election.
“It’s easy to say ‘yes, let’s upgrade Chaffey Dam to provide safe, secure water for our region’, it’s another thing to actually get some machinery on the ground and start the process,” he said.
Barwon MP and newly- appointed water minister Kevin Humphries said: “The infrastructure provided will not quite double capacity of the dam, but it won’t be far off.
“Our aim is to increase water security for town water users, which is largely the principle here, but also for the irrigation industry.”
New England MP Barnaby Joyce said the federal government’s commitment to expanding Chaffey Dam was part of a program that will “make our region , our nation and our people stronger”.