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Water strategy a key step to higher dam capacity

Measures to increase Malpas Dam’s storage capacity and boost water security for the Armidale region have moved another step closer, with Council launching a long-term assessment of the Armidale region’s water infrastructure, supply needs and community expectations.

Council has secured valuable funding to help complete a 30-year Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy and Secure Yield Model, seen as a necessary blueprint for increasing storage capacity at Malpas Dam and any other major water security options.

The strategy, estimated to cost about $180,000, will underpin further grant applications for detailed planning, design and construction works to improve the region’s water security.

 The Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, helped secure NSW Government financial assistance for a review of the IWCM, to address any gaps in the strategy.

“This is the first stage of an extensive process to develop detailed design plans that may lead to a construction contract – subject to regulatory and environmental approvals from the NSW Government,” Armidale Regional Council Chief Executive Officer Susan Law said.

“The process began last year, with Council inviting tenders from specialised dam consultants to help produce concept plans for an increase in storage capacity at Malpas Dam.”

Ms Law said Council officers are also liaising closely with NSW Government departments to strengthen the IWCM and, as a result, Council’s position to secure funding for a dam upgrade or other associated works.

“The strategy will ensure any proposed capital works projects stand up to cost-benefit analysis and provide affordable town water services for our residents and businesses over the long term,” she said.

It also addresses the complex connections between community expectations and needs and the elements of the region’s urban water cycle, which includes water supply, sewage and storm water.

Public health and environmental factors will also be considered in the strategy.

“Having the IWCM should ultimately help to streamline subsequent future steps to secure approvals and funding, including approval under Section 60 of the Local Government Act,” she said.

The Act requires local water utilities to obtain Ministerial approval for the construction or any significant modifications of dams and flood retention basins which could cause a significant threat to public safety if there was a failure in that infrastructure.

Section 60 approvals provide an independent review of the proposed works to ensure they are fit for purpose and provide robust, safe and cost-effective solutions, while meeting environmental and regulatory requirements.

 

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