DUNGOWAN Valley residents, attempting to come to terms with the shock news local families could be forced from their homes, will hold a public meeting tonight as their search for answers continues.
Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) announced last month it would seek to relocate 11 families from within the flood impact zone of Dungowan Dam, after a study found up to 50 lives could be lost in the event of a catastrophic dam break.
The relocation option, which also provides for the building of flood refuges above the predicted flood height for another 40 residents, was one of eight created, costed and considered by council.
Other possibilities included constructing a new $160 million dam further downstream, lifting the spillway capacity of the dam at a cost of $20 million or spending $90 million to rebuild the dam with increased spillway capacity.
The council has held discussions with the owners of the 11 properties most at risk from a flood event and also hosted two information sessions for locals, but long-time Dungowan resident Peter Bagshaw said there were still many unanswered questions.
Mr Bagshaw said there was a prevailing feeling of “anger” and “confusion” among many residents, who had no inkling until last month that their lives were about to be irrevocably changed.
“People are feeling a little betrayed in some cases because this study’s been going on, it would seem, for a couple of years and some people who have recently bought small holdings in the Dungowan Valley are feeling a bit angry about the whole thing,” he said.
“A big, wide swathe of the valley is going to be declared a flood zone, we believe, and the LEP (Local Environment Plan) altered ... and so all of a sudden our homes and all our farm infrastructure and things are on a flood plain.
“There are all sorts of restrictions that go with that, in terms of not being able to build anywhere on those areas and probably a decrease in property values.”
Mr Bagshaw, who with his wife Seana has lived in the valley for about 30 years, said residents were concerned the council had selected the relocation option simply because, at an estimated cost of $2 million to $18 million, it was the cheapest.
“We just want more information at this stage,” he said. “It seems that council do have quite a number of different options and the option they’ve chosen appears to be the cheapest option.”
TRC water enterprises director Bruce Logan and water manager Daniel Coe have agreed to attend tonight’s meeting, which will be held at Ogunbil Hall at 7pm.