Support flows for Malpas Dam upgrade

Armidale Regional Council

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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