THE NSW Water Minister has urged the federal government to help it drought-proof Tamworth, with a $75-million dual-pronged plan.
The Commonwealth has already committed $75m to upgrade Dungowan Dam from 6GL to 22GL, however with an estimated price tag of almost half-a-billion dollars, the money would barely make a dent.
Instead, Water Minister Melinda Pavey has requested the money be spent on a comprehensive business case on the dam upgrade, "to get the project to the point where governments can make an investment decision".
Ms Pavey said it would cost $23.3 million to get the project shovel ready. The final report would include a geotechnical study, the results of which could significantly reduce the cost of the project. At the moment, the worst case scenario has been budgeted for.
A further $38.5 million from the federal government's lump sum would fund Tamworth's emergency pipeline, which will connect Chaffey Dam to council's existing water network at Dungowan village.
The plans for which were revealed at two community meetings in Dungowan and Tamworth this week.
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In mid-June, Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack said he would consider allowing the $75 million to be used on "alternative projects, if there are better options that can deliver increased water supply".
NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey personally penned a letter to Mr McCormack to accept the offer.
"We welcome your recent re-statement of the Commonwealth's commitment to provide $75 million to co-fund the construction of the new Dungowan Dam noting that you will also consider alternative projects that better provide security for farmers and communities in the region," Ms Pavey wrote.
"The NSW government requests that the $75 million commitment be used to progress infrastructure projects that secure Tamworth's water for industry and the community.
"Redirecting the $75 million commitment under the National Water Infrastructure Act Development Fund to progress water infrastructure in the Peel Valley will deliver significant water security benefits for the region."