THE construction of the new $480 million Dungowan Dam is a step closer after the government announced part one of the funding to kickstart the pre-construction works.
On Sunday, the state government confirmed $245 million in funding to start stage one of the delivery of the new dam; as well as the Wyangala Dam project in the Central West; and further investigations into a third dam on the Mole River near Tenterfield.
Water Minister Melinda Pavey made the announcement with NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, confirming the money will help to finalise the business cases of the two dam projects, as well as pre-construction and preliminary works.
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 first revealed on October 13 during a fly-in visit to Dungowan by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian.
The dam funding came after a sustained 'Water Pressur'e' campaign by Leader,revealing the critical water shortages and supplies across the Tamworth region.
Since the announcement, the NSW Government has also funded and constructed a pipeline from Chaffey Dam to Dungowan to sure up water supplies for Tamworth.
The pipeline, which was finished in April ahead of schedule, stops transmission losses when water is released from the dam to the Calala treatment plant for supply to residents.
The three new dams have been declared critical state significant infrastructure projects.
Mr Barilaro said the three projects could create hundreds of jobs for the bush and secure water for the three different regions.
He said the three projects could also provide a much-needed economic and social boost to towns who have been ravaged by drought, bushfires and now COVID-19.
"The time is now to build dams in NSW, to be bold in our vision for regional communities and take control of our future," Mr Barilaro said.
"We are disadvantaging future generations if we don't learn our lesson in this drought and build more dams now.
"Today sets a new precedent for building dams in NSW and will act as the blueprint for growing the prosperity in our regions by investing in our state's water security."
In October last year, Ms Berejikilian said she wanted the Dungowan Dam finished by 2025, and wanted to see construction works begin by the end of this year.
Mrs Pavey said these works were desperately needed to ensure more water can be stored to sustain local communities between periods of drought.
"Last year the NSW Government made a commitment to build new dams in NSW and despite the challenges of COVID we are getting on with the job of delivering these essential projects, which will benefit local communities now and into the future," Mrs Pavey said.