THE Dungowan Dam upgrade is all but dead in the water, with the state government revealing “geotechnical challenges” mean the development would be “cost prohibitive”.
In April, The Leader revealed the project was in trouble, after a feasibility study found the project would cost $480 million – more than three times the amount intended to be allocated.
At the time, the state government remained tight-lipped on the future of the project while it digested the report. This week, NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair addressed the study’s findings.
“The study identified some geotechnical challenges and other considerations that mean that without further investigations, the cost would be substantially more than anticipated and would be cost prohibitive,” he said.
“The NSW government is continuing to work with the Commonwealth and Tamworth Regional Council to look at options for securing the Peel Valley’s long-term water security.”
The federal government has already committed $75 million for the project, which the state government was set to match – however, that now appears very unlikely.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce, who secured the $75m during his stint as Water Minister, is concerned the Commonwealth funding will be taken away now that the project has stalled.
Mr Joyce revealed his frustration at a recent Tamworth Business Chamber event.
“We have $75 million which I weaselled out for Tamworth for further water infrastructure, and it’s just sitting there wanting to be spent, whistling to people as they walk past,” he said.
“And we can’t spend it, because it’s all too complicated. So we’ll probably lose that money, and if we do, we won’t get it back.”
He’s calling for the money to be reallocated to upgrade Chaffey Dam again. The dam was augmented in 2016 to a 100-gigalitre capacity, however Mr Joyce says originally it was intended to be 122 gigalitres.