Tamworth pipeline, Walcha water project to get $50 million

WATERSHED MOMENT: Finance Minister Damien Tudehope, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Water Minister Melinda Pavey announce the funding in Tamworth.
WATERSHED MOMENT: Finance Minister Damien Tudehope, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Water Minister Melinda Pavey announce the funding in Tamworth.

THE state government has released a deluge of money to tackle the region's water crisis.

On Tuesday, NSW Water Minister announced almost $50 million for a number of projects. The funding centrepiece is $39 million for Tamworth's emergency pipeline, which will connect Chaffey Dam to Dungowan village.

Ms Pavey said the funding was an "emergency measure" for an "emergency situation".

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"We've had record low inflows into the Peel Valley," Ms Pavey said.

"Over the past year, we have experienced 1.3 per cent of the average inflows - 12 gigalitres, instead of the average 870 gigalitres.

"We need to get as much water out of that dam, to last as long as it possibly can."

Ms Pavey said the pipeline would allow the city to squeeze as much water out of the dam as possible.

"We lose about two-to-one in transmission from Chaffey down to Dungowan," she said.

"We will extend the ability to be able to draw on water for the town and our local industries for as long as possible."

Tamworth mayor Col Murray commended Ms Pavey and acknowledged the work she'd done since taking over the water portfolio.

"In my time as mayor, I'm not sure how many water ministers I've seen, but over the last nine years we've done an awful lot of talking about water," Cr Murray said.

"But I'm very pleased to say that since Minister Pavey has taken over her role, we've actually had more traction, more funding announcements and more solutions unveiled."

Walcha's water windfall

The funding also includes $1.5m for Walcha to immediately construct a pipeline to connect the town's water supplies with an existing off-river storage.

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the Macdonald River had ceased flowing nine times in the past year and the small size of the current off-stream water storage meant Walcha residents were currently experiencing level 4 water restrictions.

"Walcha needs a much larger off-stream storage system that will serve to prolong the supply of drinking water for its residents when there are no significant inflows," Mr Anderson said.

"This infrastructure will help us through this difficult time, but also prepare us for after the drought breaks. We'll continue to work with and support council with solutions that improve Walcha's water security."

The money will also be used to plan Walcha's long-term water future, with the goal of building a new town dam.

A further $3.5m will be used by WaterNSW to accelerate "detailed option analysis" to secure town water for the Upper Namoi, including the communities of Barraba and Manilla.

Tamworth council's recently announced 120ML storage dam will also be partially covered by the funding. The $5m project, with $1.45m contributed by the state government, will make it more efficient for the council to manage water at the Calala treatment plant and is expected to be completed by mid-2020.

NSW Finance Minister Damien Tudehope said investing in water security was an investment in the local economy.

"When our farmers are hurting, so are the local economies and businesses like tradies, corner stores or cafes that our communities rely on," Mr Tudehope said.

"Investments in local infrastructure means more local jobs and dollars spent in our local businesses."