Council hoping to get ahead of water rate rise

Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) are set to be slugged with a $680,000 water storage charge for Chaffey Dam, regardless of how much water the region uses.

Rates hike: Council will look at ways to reduce flow from Dungowan Dam's sluice gate after being slugged with higher fees for Chaffey Dam storage.

Rates hike: Council will look at ways to reduce flow from Dungowan Dam's sluice gate after being slugged with higher fees for Chaffey Dam storage.

TRC formally opposed the changes, however on recommendations handed down from IPART, the NSW Government will go ahead with the proposal for Water NSW to change their levy ratios.

Previously Water NSW charged a 40 per cent fixed fee and 60 per cent usage fee on stored water, however as of July 1 this ratio will change to 80 per cent fixed and 20 per cent usage.

As it stands TRC hold a Local Water Utility License from Chaffey Dam of 16,400 megalitres (ML’s), however, on average, are only using 4715 ML’s from Chafey Dam, making up 56 per cent of water used, with the remainder coming out of Dungowan Dam.

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Under the new fee structure TRC will pay $680,000 annually regardless of how much of the 16,400 ML’s is used.

At Tuesday’s ordinary meeting, council will table four options going forward, although maximising water usage out of Chaffey Dam, and minimising water loss out of Dungowan Dam’s sluice gate, which lets water out whilever the Dam is above 65 per cent capacity, are high on the agenda. 

Councillors have been told they have several options to consider. Option one is to do nothing and accept the charge, option two is to maximise usage of Chaffey Dam water, however if water is being lost from the Dungowan sluice gate it makes sense to use it, while maximising Chaffey usage could also negatively impact general security users downstream.

Option three is for TRC to surrender part of their entitlement, for example a 30 per cent reduction in entitlement would see the fee reduced by $204,000. However as the system suffers 100 per cent loss in stream between the dam and the waterworks during times of drought like the present, this would only leave 4.018 ML’s of usable water from Chaffey.

Option four would see TRC temporarily offset costs by trading water entitlements, however a series of trades can result in the water minister reducing entitlements, while there is also concerns about the appearance of selling water entitlements during a prolonged drought.

Dungowan Dam will also be a topic of conversation during a busy closed session of the council meeting.

Councillors will consider the acquisition of land surrounding the dam that would be impacted if the proposed upgrade goes ahead.

The upgrade is in a stalemate at the moment following a proposed cost blow-out, although both state and federal government’s are still committed to funding $75 million each.

In other closed meeting discussions, councillors will consider the sale of Federation Park, near the racecourse, as well as another velodrome development proposal. Another recommendation to to urges councillors to decline all tenders for the Tamworth Airport Cafe, and instead enter into direct negotiations with interested companies.