THIRTY years after the idea was first floated, the prospect of a new storage dam on the Mole River, on the northern tip of New England, is being taken seriously.
After advocacy from Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, the State Government is seeking Federal funding for a feasibility study into a new storage on the river.
Mr Marshall was approached by irrigators in the Border Rivers catchment interested in reviving a decades-old idea that the un-dammed Mole might be a key to securing more stable water flows.
The Mole flows into Dumaresq River, which for part of its length defines the NSW-Queensland border and is an important source of water for irrigators in the Border Rivers catchment.
“On hearing the merits of the irrigator’s storage proposal, I was delighted to lead a delegation to meet with Water Minister Barnaby Joyce to explain the idea,” Mr Marshall said.
“On his advice I lobbied the State Government to seek Commonwealth funding for the feasibility study.”
Water security is the foundation of economic security for communities across the Western Slopes and Plains, but that security has been eroded in recent years.
“The Murray Darling Basin Plan’s water buyback program has cost farms across the basin about $20 million, and cut economic activity across towns like Goondiwindi and Moree by about $40 to $60 million,” the MP said.
“Our region has been impacted more than most other parts of the basin, so when a group a irrigators came to me with the Mole River Dam proposal, I was more than happy to advocate on their behalf for the funds to proceed, sooner rather than later, with a feasibly study.”
That backing has now been forthcoming. The NSW Government has applied to the Commonwealth’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund for funding to support a study into the feasibility of the new storage.
“Water is without a doubt our most valuable resource,” Mr Marshall said.
“With increasing pressure on water security, governments need to think boldly about how we ensure the longevity and productivity of some of our nation’s most important primary industries.”