FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce has welcomed statements of support for the Apsley River Dam project by prominent Tamworth Regional councillors.
Mr Joyce is chair of the Prime Minister’s Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group and said a series of water infrastructure projects had been identified across Australia to assist in meeting future water demands that could have the potential for Commonwealth involvement.
The Apsley proposal, east of Walcha, is one of about 30 projects in the report that are being studied for further discussion.
Mr Joyce said growth in the agricultural sector depended on the sustainable use of natural resources and the right water infrastructure in the right places.
“Water is wealth and stored water is a bank. It’s vitally important therefore that our water infrastructure, in terms of storage and irrigation capacity, keeps pace with the needs of the nation, including farmers, industry, mining and regional communities and the cities,” he said.
Mr Joyce said irrigation contributed to 28 per cent of Australia’s agricultural production in 2012–13.
“The right infrastructure in the right place will help us meet future challenges by managing this vital resource and growing our economy in the long term, opening up new areas of production and bringing a better return back through the farm gate.”
Part of the Apsley Dam project, which was canned by Premier Neville Wran in 1983, was to lift water back into the Macdonald River to run it west into the Namoi River. There was also discussion regarding a lift from the Macdonald into the Cockburn and running water from Apsley through Tamworth.
Deputy Mayor, Cr Russ Webb and Cr Juanita Wilson both spoke on Tuesday evening for the need by the council to throw its support behind the Apsley proposal. It was a project they said offered long term water security to the city and surrounding communities.
“If we want the Federal Government to invest in Apsley Dam we should write and offer support,” Cr Webb said during Tuesday evening’s debate on the need to further investigate options to improve Tamworth’s raw water security.
“Apsley Dam could further add to our water security.”
Cr Wilson told her fellow councillors they should regard Apsley as a long term objective.
“We should use every political advantage we have,” Cr Wilson said.