THE first new dam to be built in NSW in close to 30 years will be constructed in the Dungowan valley near Tamworth in an almost half-a-billion dollar plan by the state and federal governments.
The new 22.5 gigalitre storage will be built about 3km downstream from the current Dungowan Dam, which is owned by Tamworth council.
The $480 million project was announced on Sunday in a whirlwind tour of the current dam with Prime Minister Scott Morrison flying into Tamworth, flanked by NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian, her deputy John Barilaro, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and New England MP Barnaby Joyce.
You couldn't wipe the smile off the face of Tamworth mayor, Col Murray, who said council had already "acquired all of the properties" for the multi-million-dollar project over the past four years, and "continue to acquire properties downstream that may be effected by a potential dam".
"There is no land acquisition needed for this project and one of the really important considerations with the new location of the dam is to take in the Terrible Billy Creek catchment which takes in almost one third of the potential yield for this valley," he said.
A lot of devil is still in the detail on where exactly the dam will be built, and also who will own the water.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said "the planning work is done" and she's confident early works will start next year.
"We suspect it will be completed around 2024-25; if we can bring that forward any earlier we will but at this stage it will take around four years," she said.
The dam will be fast-tracked under new planning rules announced by the state last week, and was one of the final issues that helped to pull the trigger on it.
"You've also got to have a state government that is willing to actually push through and congestion bust the regulation that holds the projects up," Mr Morrison said.
"The reason I know the NSW Government wants to dig holes in the ground and build dams is because they're not only putting the money in but they're doing the work on the process that can get it happening."
The state + federal govts will spend $480 million to build a new 22.5 gigalitre dam at Dungowan, 3km downstream from the current Dungowan Dam owned by #Tamworth council. Mayor Col Murray + @Barnaby_Joyce can’t wipe the smile off their faces #waterpressure@The_NDL@jlmcarthur4pic.twitter.com/lsYn9GXJyK— Breanna Chillingworth (@breannachill) October 13, 2019
The announcement - part of a $1 billion package between the state and federal governments - also included $24m in funds for investigative works on a 100-gigalitre dam on the Mole River near Tenterfield, and raising the Wyangala Dam wall in the Central West.
In total, it'll increase the water storage of regional NSW by 1.2 Sydney Harbours, Mr McCormack said.
"It isn't without criticism, I'm sure there is going to be greenies and people who criticise even what we're doing now; however, they should know that the food and fibre production doesn't happen by chance and we need to store water in wet times, and it will rain again .... but what we're going to do is store it, and then we're going to use it in the dry times," he said.