THERE has never been a better opportunity for the state government to heavily invest in a dam to shore-up Tamworth's water security for the next 40 years, the council's top brass has said.
General manager Paul Bennett said Tamworth Regional Council has essentially cleared the path towards a new Dungowan Dam for the city and the NSW government just needed to spend some money on the plan.
"This is high cost infrastructure, the government is cashed up, they know they have got a great opportunity to put some things in place for the 30-40 year time frame, I think it is the best opportunity we have ever had to get that sort of investment," he said.
Mr Bennett said expanding the Dugowan catchment was definitely the long-term solution for Tamworth's water security and it mightn't be as expensive as first thought.
Council's own studies have found a Dungowan expansion would have triple the yield of a Chaffey upgrade and could cater for a city double the size of Tamworth in 2019.
"Council's done some studies and it estimated it would only get an extra two gigalitres of water per year for the city if we upgraded Chaffey Dam," he said.
"Whereas, if we build a new Dungowan Dam, potentially that's six gigalitres, so triple the amount of water for the city, which would essentially see us be able to double in size as a city."
It appears the progress of this option hinges on a geo-technical study to assess whether the site would be appropriate.
"Once you have got the new geo-technical study, then you can get certainty about the cost of building it," he said.
"That's the first step.
"Invest the money to do the studies upfront to know whether you have even got a project in the first place and, number two, get a much more accurate costing because we certainly think the original price tag was very vastly inflated based around that risk whether the geo-tech would allow it to be built in that location."
He said it was, in his opinion, the state government's responsibility to fund that study and get the project going.
"There is no land acquisition issues for the state, this is just about them saying 'can we build this new piece of infrastructure here'," he said.
"I think the penny has dropped for them that we do have to make some longer term decisions.
"So, that when we go through these drought cycles they're not having to put these emergency measures in place all of the time."
Later this year, Tamworth will head to the Local Government NSW conference where the state's councils will debate a slew of motions aimed at shaping policy effecting people at a local level.
Councillors want the support of their statewide counterparts to pressure the government to come up with a water infrastructure strategy to deal with population and economic growth in the next 40 years.
It's something Mr Bennett believed would get widespread support across the state. "Even our Sydney counterparts would probably support the motion at the moment," he said.
"We are always planning around our infrastructure for the next thirty of forty years, it's about time the state government started doing the same thing."