DROUGHT RELIEF: Council calls for dam wall to be raised
KYOGLE Council is urgently calling on the NSW Government to commit to raising the Toonumbar Dam wall by six metres to improve drought security and encourage further investment in agricultural production.
Councillors at Monday night's meeting were told raising the height of the dam wall would increase the dam's storage capacity by 8GL to almost 20GL and could be completed for just $50 million.
The council then resolved to write to the NSW Minister for Water, Melinda Pavey MP, and the chief executive officer of WaterNSW David Harris requesting them to both urgently commit to increasing the capacity and security of Toonumbar Dam.
Kyogle Council mayor Danielle Mulholland said WaterNSW had advised council the wall couldn't be raised without actually increasing the height of the existing embankment.
Rather, it could be achieved by building a new spillway to the south of the existing dam and installing gates on the current spillway.
"This is about planning for the future for the whole of the Kyogle and Richmond Valley areas and making the best possible use of the existing facility," Cr Mulholland said.
"There has been a lot of talk about improving water security and drought resilience, and this proposal does both, for what is a relatively small investment.
"We continue to have discussions with WaterNSW about what they are prepared to do with this asset and how they intend to manage the issues associated with it. With the drought, this has become a far more urgent matter and we need to partner with the state government to deliver outcomes that meet community expectations."
Kyogle Council deputy mayor John Burley, who moved the motion to pursue the proposal to raise the dam wall, said Toonumbar Dam was an undervalued resource that had the potential to benefit the entire region.
"As well as giving improved drought security for water users downstream of the dam, the increased capacity of the dam would provide incentive for existing water users and opportunities for new high value agricultural productions in the local area," he said.
"There is also potential for the dam to be used as a town water supply source by either Rous Water or Richmond Valley Council."
The motion for the request came after WaterNSW held a workshop with licence holders along the regulated sections of the Richmond catchment downstream of Toonumbar Dam last month.
The workshop was attended by representatives from WaterNSW, the Kyogle Council general manager, and approximately 18 members of the local community representing the water users and licence holders.
The council papers stated a number of options currently under investigation for consideration in the development of a future strategy for the utilisation of water from Toonumbar Dam were presented by WaterNSW.
"The water users present at the meeting in November were supportive of the concept of raising the dam wall as outlined in the Notice of Motion above," the papers read.
"The officers from WaterNSW advised that they were primarily investigating opportunities for additional sales and transfer of the available water from Toonumbar Dam to Rous Water for use as town water supplies.
"While those present did not raise any objections to this in principle, they did ask that WaterNSW consider raising the dam wall regardless of any additional town water supply opportunities with either Rous Water or Richmond Valley Council."