THE state government is scrambling to find an alternative to upgrading Dungowan Dam, after a report found the work would cost $330 million – more than three times the amount allocated.
The feasibility study by WaterNSW estimated the project, which involves building a new dam in front of the old one, would cost up to $480 million.
The federal government has committed $75 million to the upgrade and the NSW government was expect to match that, for a combined total of $150 million.
With the cost blow out, the state government is at risk of losing the $75m on the table from the Commonwealth, which New England MP Barnaby Joyce fought for when he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Water Resources.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson told The Leader he’s investigating other ways to spent the money on local water infrastructure with Mr Joyce and NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair.
“We were possibly looking at $150 million, so it does fall well short,” Mr Anderson said.
“We’ve been having discussions about whether we upgrade the existing Dungowan Dam, or we upgrade Chaffey Dam again.
“That $75 million was set aside for Dungowan Dam, so we need to look at if there is some flexibility.
“It’s about what’s going to get us our best bang for our buck. Ultimately we want to increase our water security and provide for the community for decades to come.”
Mr Blair refused to answer if the NSW government would still match the federal government’s $75m in light of the report, instead distancing himself from the blow out.
“WaterNSW carried out a feasibility study into the augmentation of Dungowan Dam on the on behalf of the Commonwealth government,” a spokesperson for Mr Blair said.
“Any questions related to the outcome of that study should be referred to the Commonwealth and the relevant minister.”
Mr Joyce is concerned that if the $75m already committed isn’t spent, it will be taken away and “we won’t get it back”.