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Support flows for Malpas Dam upgrade

Malpas Dam’s spillway will be raised by 6.49 metres after councillors supported the recommendation at the May 26 Ordinary Council meeting.

The decision was based on the findings of reports from the NSW Public Works Advisory, the NSW Urban Water Services Armidale Yield Study and the Malpas Dam Upgrade Assessment undertaken by Council staff.

Armidale Regional Council’s General Manager James Roncon said this is a positive milestone for the multimillion dollar project.

“Securing the region’s water supply is a major priority for council, so this decision is a welcome step in ensuring the region is prepared for future droughts,” said Mr Roncon.

“We believe an investment in water security is crucial to protecting the wellbeing of the region for decades to come.”

The Malpas Dam Upgrade Options Report from March 2021 written by The NSW Public Works Advisory analysed three options, including keeping the existing full storage level, raising the spillway by three metres, and raising the spillway by 6.49 metres. Following discussions with Public Works and the recommendation of the secure yield analysis, it was decided that Council should focus on the third option of raising the full storage level by 6.49 metres.

This will increase Malpas Dam’s storage from 12.2 gigalitres to 27.6 gigalitres, and while this won’t provide the full secure yield required over the 30 year time frame, it will significantly increase the storage volume and will add the capacity to accept pumped inputs from other catchments.

 “The findings of the yield study show that while raising the spillway by 6.49 metres is the most effective option at this point in time, we will need to continue to explore supplementary water storage options to account for the unrestricted demand under climate change conditions,” said Mr Roncon.

“Droughts are becoming more prolonged and more frequent, which is why we need to be forward-thinking to ensure we don’t face the same issues that we have faced in the recent past.”

Council will now commence the preparation of a business case for the project to explore the funding source, the impact on Council’s financial sustainability, impact on operating costs, and the affordability for residents and businesses.

Preliminary costings estimate the project will total around $26 million, however this figure is a high level estimate and is subject to change based on further concept design and investigation works. Council hopes to secure funding for these further planning works from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Safe and Secure funding program. Council will continue to seek support from our local Member for Northern Tablelands to to lock in full State Government funding for the next design phase that will cost approximately $1million.

A Request for Quotation will also be released in June to develop an Armidale Regional Council Catchment Water Quality Strategic Plan. This will outline a ten year plan to elevate water quality in Council’s storages and improve catchment health. It’s expected this will cost around $100,000.

To read the findings of the reports, see the agenda and attachments of the May 26 Ordinary Council Meeting.

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