Armidale Regional Council has resolved to spend $4.3 million to purchase an inactive local dam in a bid to help secure the region’s future water supply.
Mayor, Sam Coupland says once it’s repaired, Oaky River Dam will address the region’s underlying water security needs, especially during times of drought.
“Water security is the number one issue preventing our region from growing. We need to provide a long-term solution to allow the region to sustainably support growth over the next few years,” said Mayor Coupland.
“The timing is perfect, as Council had identified Oaky River Dam as the preferred water supply option in March this year. This will be wonderful for our whole region,” he said.
Council General Manager, James Roncon said Council had acted quickly when the option to purchase Oaky River Dam, which is located 40 kilometres east of the city, became available.
“The Hydro-Electric Scheme built in 1956, suffered damage in 2013 and so is no longer active. Whilst it does require work to repair and develop into a water source, is critical infrastructure and will ensure our region is better prepared for any future drought,” said Mr Roncon.
“Compared with creating a whole new dam, with Oaky it means the impact on the environment is already known. It’s a logical choice to establish as an additional water source.”
Council purchased the dam with funds from its $26.9 million Water Reserve.
The Council will now begin the process of lobbying the State Government and opposition for funding to reinstate the Oaky River Dam wall and construct a pipeline from the dam to the Armidale Water Treatment Plant (WTP).
“This aligns with a funding proposal currently with Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) for pre-construction works, leading to a tender ready stage which is the next step for the water security project. The acquisition comes after Council set ambitious growth targets of 4,000 jobs over the next ten years as part of a Mayoral Growth and Jobs summit held in February this year,” Council said in a statement.
“Securing the region’s water supply, to support the level of growth required, now provides assurance to future developers that we are open for business and our region is an attractive option for those considering a tree change,” it said.