COUNCILLORS have united in a call for state and federal governments to fund a water purification plant in Tamworth, after a new report highlighted the economic impact of the worst drought in living memory.
Tamworth Regional Council commissioned the Economic Benefits of a More Reliable Water Supply for Tamworth study, which it will now take to the government to advocate for water security for the region.
A strategic business case for a reverse osmosis facility that would recycle saline effluent to produce high-purity water for industrial use has already been completed by council.
So far, the council has only received $50,000 in funding from the NSW government for the $105 million project.
It would be the largest scheme of its kind in regional NSW, and councillor Phil Betts said it's a chance for the city to be a leader in the water space.
"It's imperative that the council uses the report to lobby the state and federal governments for the water purification plant," he said.
"We can be leaders in Australia with that sort of technology.
"It's here, we can do it. We just need the support."
Cr Brooke Sutherland shared the same sentiments, and urged the state and federal governments to support the project.
The report outlining the economic impacts of the 2017 to 2020 drought was received and noted by council at its Tuesday meeting.
Regional Australia Institute and CSIRO undertook the study, and found the drought caused a $70 million sting for the Tamworth economy, and the region is likely to face a big dry of the same intensity once every 50 years.
Cr Judy Coates said the findings highlight the need for building a more drought resilient community in Tamworth.
"We may easily think 'why waste money on something we already know anecdotally?... but the outcomes of this study help council to build a stronger case to government for increased investment for water security for the future in Tamworth," she said.
Cr Bede Burke said as a farmer himself, he experienced first-hand the impacts of the last drought, and he worries for future generations if better water security decisions aren't made.
"For us in agriculture in particular, to live through a one in 100 year drought had impacts we could never imagine in terms of mental health and the long-term progression of agriculture, but more importantly our young people," he said.
"I hope and pray we get some more sensible options with the new federal water minister."
Cr Marc Sutherland said he would like to see all of council's policies aligned to acknowledge the real impacts of climate change on the community.
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