Tamworth Regional Council has set sail on nearly $1 million worth of safety upgrades to Dungowan Dam, and for some councillors the decision was a big spat of rain on their parade.
At council's latest meeting, councillor Phil Betts said he was "begrudgingly" in support of the safety works.
"I say begrudgingly because we're going to spend almost $1 million and we're not going to get an extra bottle of water out of it," Cr Betts said.
Safety upgrades were put on hold under the assumption a new dam was to be built downstream, but with those plans sunk by the federal government, Tamworth council is required by NSW regulations to reduce safety risks at the existing dam as far as is reasonably practical.
Cr Betts said it's unfair for Tamworth to have to foot the $850,000 bill as a result of federal and state government decisions.
"These are unfunded mandates, mandates that have been imposed on us subsequent to building the dams to the correct standard," he said.
At the council meeting, Cr Bede Burke also said he would "reluctantly" support the safety upgrades and lamented the loss of Dungowan Dam 2.0.
"The issue we have is missing out on a new Dungowan Dam downstream, with increased capacity catching the extra catchment off Terrible Billy Creek ... this was always coming at us and now it's hitting us," Cr Burke said.
"In all of this we haven't given any more water security to our residents and to the growing population of Tamworth, so it's going to be a challenge for us going ahead."
In response, Cr Mark Rodda said council needs to stop living in the past and focus on the options available for the future.
Water recycling has been a bee in Cr Rodda's bonnet for more than six years, but he also said Tamworth needs to contend not only with water supply, but with water management.
"I just hope that when we do get to the next drought and someone decides to leave the tap on from Chaffey, we toughen up and ask the government of the day why they're releasing so much water and to whom," Cr Mark Rodda said, referring to water releases the state government approved in recent droughts.
There was one voice in the room who spoke positively about the proposal.
Cr Judy Coates said council should do everything in its power to reduce safety risks to the community.
"The safety of our community is absolutely important, we have to address any potential risks," Cr Coates said.
Part of the works council approved includes a $75,000 safety investigation to better inform council of what safety upgrades will need to be made in the future.
Early estimates for future upgrades to the dam total $2.5 million.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
- Bookmark northerndailyleader.com.au
- Make sure you are signed up for our breaking and regular headlines newsletters
- Follow us on Twitter
- Follow us on Instagram
- Follow us on Google News