Barnaby Joyce asks if $75m for Dungowan upgrade could be used for Chaffey expansion instead

REDIRECTED: New England MP Barnaby Joyce is eager to see the $75 million the federal government pledged to upgrade Dungowan Dam spent. Photo: Gareth Gardner 060516GGA16
REDIRECTED: New England MP Barnaby Joyce is eager to see the $75 million the federal government pledged to upgrade Dungowan Dam spent. Photo: Gareth Gardner 060516GGA16

SUPPORT for an upgrade of Dungowan Dam appears to have dried-up with Barnaby Joyce asking the federal government to shift its $75 million commitment towards an expansion of Chaffey instead.

The New England MP told The Leader nothing seemed to be happening with Dungowan upgrade and additional water storage was needed for Tamworth.

With an election looming in 2019, Mr Joyce said the money needed to be spent.

I know if we go to an election and lose it, we’ll lose the whole lot.

New England MP Barnaby Joyce

“I know if we go to an election and lose it, we’ll lose the whole lot,” he said.

The former minister said water infrastructure should be the next focus when the current drought breaks and thought “the state guys seemed to be very aware” of his proposal to pivot upgrade talk to Chaffey and it had “more potential”.

Mr Joyce said Chaffey was initially designed to go up to 122 megalitres.

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Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the discussions were being had but he didn’t have a preferred option.

“We need to ensure we get best value for money,” he said.

“If we’re going to spend a significant amount of money, we need to get the best bang for our buck.

“I’m not a water expert, so I’ll have the discussion with those people who absolutely, totally understand how engineering compared to building a new dam would look versus a further upgrade.”

Tamworth mayor Col Murray said there could be benefit to expanding Chaffey, but it would need to be backed-up by numbers.

“I guess council has been of the mind of trying, where possible, to attach a future water strategy to a different catchment to Chaffey,” Cr Murray said.

“There could be benefit to enlarging Chaffey, it would need to be based on a bit of research.

“Dungowan has a more easterly catchment so it’s subject to that higher eastern rainfall.”

The potential upgrade of Dungowan Dam was blown out of the water in April when state government estimated it would cost up to $480 million.

Council subsequently called for an independent review of the NSW government’s estimate.

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