Dams shortlist with PM

THREE sites in the region have been earmarked for new or expanded dams as part of a plan to bolster agricultural production and stimulate local economies.

The issue of new dams has long been a political hot potato, with environmentalists staunchly opposing them and farming groups claiming they are critical for water security.

The dams shortlist, presented to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, includes the previously shelved Aspley Dam near Walcha, the already funded expansion of Chaffey Dam and a new dam at Mole River near Tenterfield.

Federal cabinet is set to consider the dams report within weeks

New England MP Barnaby Joyce’s office yesterday confirmed the veracity of the report and said a decision on future dams would ultimately rest with the prime minister.

Mr Joyce, who was appointed chairman of the federal government’s dams committee in March, said new storages would help farmers meet the booming southeast Asian markets and help safeguard residential water supplies.

“In Australia we have to find more water storage. In the ’80s when (the Apsley Dam) project was stopped, there was about 4.5ML of water stored per person,” Mr Joyce said.

“If we don’t do anything, by 2050 there will only be 2.5ML of stored water per person. That’s way below our requirements.

“My only problem is going to be fighting the environmentalists.

Pat Schultz from New England Greens said any moves to build new dams had to be carefully considered.

“When you dam a river, you keep more water in one spot and someone is going to lose,” Ms Schultz said.

“Australia needs dams, but we need flowing rivers too.”

“Every dam should be assessed on its merits and take into account environmental concerns.

“Australia needs dams, but we need flowing rivers too.”

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