“Rain is the only way we will overcome this drought
“Rain is the only way we will overcome this drought"

$3b plan for four new dams to beat drought

THE NSW Farmers Federation has called for billions of dollars worth of new dams to be built in the most drought-stricken areas of the state.

The four new dams - which would cost at least $2.9 billion - were highlighted as the "preferred" water saving options by Water NSW in June last year and farmers have called for the plans to be fast tracked in response to the drought.

A spokeswoman for NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said all options were on the table and confirmed her department was investigating the creation of new dams.

"Rain is the only way we will overcome this drought," she said.

Warragamba Dam is currently at 54.8% capacity.
Warragamba Dam is currently at 54.8% capacity.


"The NSW Government is investing in a number of options that provide a secure supply of water for our drought affected communities, including the creation of new water storage."

There were also a series of dam "augmentations" and upgrades proposed by Water NSW which would would cost hundreds of millions of dollars more.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said farmers struggling with drought wanted to be able to discuss dam options without being shouted down by activist groups.

"At this rate western NSW is going to have to close down and governments which have plans to get 100,000 people in Tamworth and 200,000 people to Dubbo will not be able to achieve those numbers without increasing water supply," he said.

"It is just a mess and one of the solutions is increasing supply by building new dams. It is a disgrace that there hasn't been much built in recent years."

The report identified Murrumbidgee, Border, Gwydir and Peel valleys as being prime locations for new dams.

 

The report identified Murrumbidgee as being a prime location for a new dam.
The report identified Murrumbidgee as being a prime location for a new dam.

The report identified Murrumbidgee, Border, Gwydir and Peel valleys as being prime locations for new dams.

It also recommended further investigating Tumut, Gwydir, Namoi, Lachlan, and the Hunter valley for other options.

Mr Jackson said the same people who were concerned about climate change were also refusing to have conversations about how to prevent drought.

"With climate change meteorologist are saying it is going to be wetter at times and drier at times," he said.

"It is bleeding obvious that we need more storage and while we are having people refusing to engage in sensible debate from inner suburban centres of this country, then we will fail to prosecute a common sense solution to water storage."

NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey was contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.

One of the proposed new dams would be built on the Murrumbidgee River, near Mingay, and would provide up to 1000 giga litres of water at a cost of $1.174 billion.

 

The Hunter Valley was also identified as a possible new location for a dam.
The Hunter Valley was also identified as a possible new location for a dam.

 

"The Murrumbidgee has a relatively reliable water supply, however, this may change following the implementation of the Basin Plan's Sustainable Diversion Limits and possible reduction in rainfall due to climate change," Water NSW wrote in the report.

"Hydrological data received from DoI Water for the Murrumbidgee indicates that under the current water sharing arrangements, there is an opportunity to improve reliability of supply for general security licence holders.

"Long-term infrastructure options considered for further investigation to improve security and

reliability of supply in the valley include (a) new dam on the Murrumbidgee near

Mingay."

Another dam could provide 350 GL on the Horton River for $937 million and the existing small dam in Dungowan could upgraded to provide 22.5 GL.

A dam on the Mole River could hold 100 GL at a cost of $331.

A Water NSW spokesman confirmed the department still supported the report's findings which call for new dam infrastructure.