MP URGES RAISING MALPAS DAM WALL TO PROVIDE REGIONAL WATER SECURITY

Thursday, 30 May 2019

 

MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has taken to the floor of the NSW Parliament to urge for storage capacity of Malpas Dam to be doubled, by raising the dam wall by five metres, in the face of more consistent and severe droughts.

 

Mr Marshall expressed his strong desire to raise the wall of Malpas Dam, Armidale’s water supply, once the $13 million water pipeline connecting it to the Guyra is complete later this year.

 

He said that doubling the capacity of the water storage would guarantee water security for the wider region for many decades to come.

 

Mr Marshall told parliament last night that as droughts become more prevalent community and governments should stop seeing water storages as belonging solely to one town and explore the potential of increasing their capacity to service an entire region.

 

“Malpas Dam was built in 1968 and, like many dams of that generation, those who engineered it had enormous foresight,” Mr Marshall said.

 

“The 13,000-megalitre water reservoir was designed so that its capacity could be increased one day – in fact, doubled – to account for what they anticipated would be Armidale’s future growing population.

 

“By adding five metres to the height of the wall, the dam’s capacity can be doubled to 26,000 megalitres, which, if we had that right now, would well and truly ensure a long-term water supply for both the Armidale and the Guyra communities.”

 

Armidale Regional Council has shown interest in exploring the viability of the project alongside the NSW Government.

 

Mr Marshall said as the region’s population continued to increase, steps needed to be taken to ensure businesses and residents had secure and quality potable water supplies.

 

“Armidale continues to grow, as does Guyra, and now more than ever we need to display the same foresight our region’s forefathers had,” he said.

 

“We should lift the dam wall and increase water storage for everyone in the Armidale and Guyra region for decades to come.

 

“There’s no better time to do this than now, while we’re in drought and while there is a considerable amount of money available from the State Governments for projects like this.

 

“Just as we secured almost $13 million from the government for the water pipeline to Guyra, I’d ready to put my shoulder to the wheel again for our region to help secure funds to raise the Malpas Dam wall.”

 

Further to this media release, please find below a Dropbox link to vision of my speech in Parliament last night.

 

Hansard proof of Mr Marshall’s speech last night

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hfixud0effgcboz/29-05-2019%20LA_PMS_Marshall_Guyra%20Water%20Pipeline.mp4?dl=0

 

MALPAS DAM WALL RAISING

 

Hon. ADAM MARSHALL (Northern Tablelands – Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales) (18:53:16): The devastating effects of drought currently gripping New South Wales have well and truly spilled beyond the farm gate. The lack of water is now being directly felt by residents in country towns and villages right across the bush. In the Northern Tablelands communities such as Guyra, and its 2,500 residents, are faced with the serious prospect of running out of potable water within the next 100 days. If the severity of this drought has shown us anything, it is the need to plan and develop infrastructure – water infrastructure in particular – which will support our rural communities through more consistent and prolonged dry periods.

 

Last week I joined Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray and fellow councillors Dorothy Robinson, Andrew Murat, Jon Galletly and Peter Bailey to at Malpas Dam—the city of Armidale’s water supply—to inspect progress on the construction of a new $13 million water pipeline from Malpas Dam to the Guyra community’s depleted water supply dam.

 

This project, which has been funded almost completely by the State Government, has seen a 15-kilometre below-ground pipeline laid, which will allow water to be pumped from Malpas Dam to Guyra’s town supply during periods of below average rainfall. This project is an absolute game changer for Guyra. It is expected to not only drought-proof the town but also allow local residential developments and, importantly, industry to continue to thrive and grow, creating jobs and more opportunities for the small rural community.

 

As of this week Guyra Dam’s water level sits just above 30 per cent, while Malpas Dam, supplying Armidale, is at around 51 per cent. As a means of extending the life of what water is left in both supplies, Armidale Regional Council has introduced level 4 water restrictions for both the City of Armidale and the township of Guyra.

 

I congratulate all the work teams that have been working very hard over the past few months trying to get the pipeline project finished as soon as possible. It is now ahead of schedule. While the construction will see that project completed and delivering water to Guyra by mid-August, it looks very likely that, without any intervention, the township will run out of water before that pipeline is constructed.

 

I acknowledge Armidale Regional Council for the plan it has developed to truck water as an interim measure from Armidale to Guyra—the first time this has ever had to happen—to ensure that the township does not run out of water before the pipeline is complete and can deliver water. This will mean people will have good, potable water when they turn on their taps and, importantly, local industry will not have to shed jobs or close down completely.

 

I thank the Minister for Water, Property and House, Melinda Pavey, for her quick response to my calls on behalf of the community to have the State Government provide emergency funding to cover council’s costs of carting water as an interim measure from Armidale to Guyra. It is absolutely essential that Guyra does not run out of potable water.

 

While the Malpas Dam pipeline is a revolutionary project for Guyra, in my firm view it should only be the start of a more ambitious plan to grow our region’s capacity to store more water. To that end, I have begun a conversation with Armidale Regional Council and the State Government about the viability of raising the wall of Malpas Dam by five metres to double storage capacity at that dam.

 

Malpas Dam was built in 1968 and, like many dams of that generation, those who engineered it had huge foresight. The 13,000-megalitre reservoir was designed so that its capacity could be increased one day – in fact, doubled – to account for what they anticipated would be Armidale’s growing population. By adding five metres to the wall’s height the dam’s capacity can be doubled to 26,000 megalitres, which, if we had that right now, would well and truly ensure a long-term water supply for both the Armidale and the Guyra communities.

 

After making this concept public, an opinion piece was written in Tamworth’s local newspaper The Northern Daily Leader. It stated:

 

Most of the solutions have been large in scale, perhaps to match the severity of the situation we face. But bureaucracy is often a slow-moving beast—and the bigger the weight to bear the slower it moves. Rather than putting forward these massive “home-run” developments, that cost in the tens and hundreds of millions, perhaps we should be looking to hedge our bets with multiple smaller proposals.

 

I could not agree more.

 

As droughts become more prevalent and severe we should stop seeing water storages as expanses of water that belong solely to one town and explore the potential to increase regional water storages to service a region – multiple towns. Armidale continues to grow, as does Guyra, and now more than ever we need the foresight that our forefathers had. We should lift the dam wall and increase water storage for everyone in the Armidale and Guyra region.

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