Federal government body says no to NSW dam

The business case for the New Dungowan Dam and Pipeline near Tamworth in NSW has been officially turned down by Infrastructure Australia.

The government body conducted an independent assessment of the business case by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and has decided not to add the proposal for the dam to the Infrastructure Priority List.

In April this year, Minister for Regional NSW, Paul Toole, said the state government was “getting on with the job of building dams” and that “the construction of the New Dungowan Dam and Pipeline will create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars for local businesses over the next few years”.

However, four months later Infrastructure Australia has put the kibosh on the project despite acknowledging it offered sustainability and resilience benefits. The proposal for the New Dungowan Dam and Pipeline was developed in 2019 to increase the town water supply for Tamworth in Central NSW and to maintain water reliability for agricultural production in the Peel Valley. It was in response to long periods of drought and water restrictions at a time when the city was 12 months out from running out of water from the Chaffey Dam, its primary water source.

The funding for the dam was to be spit 50:50 between the federal and state governments but at a capital cost of more than $1.28 billion, the proposal for the 58 metre-high New Dungowan Dam with a catchment area of 175 square kilometres wasn’t considered viable.

“Our assessment found that similar community benefits could be achieved through a combination of lower cost build and non-build options,” Infrastructure Australia stated.

The government body suggested increasing the amount of water from Chaffey Dam and making it available for urban use along with and changes to policy such as demand management and water use efficiency measures.

Infrastructure Australia said it would “welcome a revised business case for an investment solution that better aligns to the identified problems and opportunities for providing increased water security to the Tamworth region”. Despite the decision, the NSW Government is still holding a two-hour webinar on the project this Thursday 25 August from 9.30 AM and again at 5.30 PM.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is the Editor of Concrete in Australia and at the helm of our magazine for 8 years. She was behind the Institute's weekly news bulletins from 2016-2021 and is now writing our focused news items. Desi has been an engineering news and features journalist/editor across all disciplines since 2013 - part of a 30-year career writing for a wide range of industries.