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New Dungowan Dam and Pipeline

Frequently Asked Questions

Project snapshot

In 2019 Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the then NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the planning and delivery of three new or augmented dams in NSW. This includes replacing the existing Dungowan Dam near Tamworth.

The proposed new Dungowan Dam will increase town water supply for Tamworth and sustain the reliability of water for agriculture across the Peel Valley as Tamworth grows. This will enable future population growth for Tamworth, and together with Chaffey Dam, will maintain the productive level of Peel Valley’s general security, reliability and water use. The new Dungowan Pipeline will replace the 70-year-old existing pipeline.

What are the key benefits of the project?

Key benefits include:

  • Increased town water supply for Tamworth
  • Sustained reliability of water for agriculture in the Peel Valley
  • A proposed new dam approximately 3.5km downstream of the existing dam
  • A new 55km pipeline from the proposed new Dungowan Dam to the Calala Water Treatment Plant
  • Replacing ageing infrastructure
  • Maximising local opportunities from planning and construction of the project.

Where is the Dungowan Dam pipeline going to go? 

A preferred route has been determined and detailed design is expected to be completed in 2021 for the full 55km pipeline. The preferred route runs from Tamworth Regional Council’s Calala Water Treatment Plan to the proposed new Dungowan Dam site.

The pipeline will be built in two stages, with Stage one establishing a new reliable connection from the recently completed Chaffey Dam pipeline to Tamworth’s town water supply. Stage two will be built in conjunction with the proposed new Dungowan Dam pending the outcomes of the Final Business Case and Environmental Impact Statement.

How is Water Infrastructure NSW engaging with the community, stakeholders and affected landholders?

Comprehensive community engagement has been carried out since the proposed dam was announced in late 2019.

Since March 2021 the project team has been engaging with landowners to discuss the impacts of the pipeline on their property and how they could be mitigated. Changes were made to the pipeline route to accommodation land use and environment.

To date (end of August 2021), the Dungowan project team has run almost 30 information events, held almost 50 stakeholder briefings and had more than 300 meetings with impacted landowners. On average the team is holding seven landowner meetings, one community event and one stakeholder briefing each fortnight.

While COVID-19 is placing restrictions on face-to-face engagement, the team continues to run monthly webinars and other online forums so that the community can be kept up to date and provide feedback as plans progress.

Early EIS community consultation begun in June 2021 and will continue for the next few months.

Around 85% of the Tamworth and Peel Valley communities surveyed support the proposed new Dungowan Dam and pipeline project.

How is the project being funded?

The project is being jointly funded by the Australian and NSW Governments.

What is the current status of the project? 

Extensive work continues to be carried out to progress the Final Business Case and Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Dungowan Dam Project.

Since early 2020, comprehensive environmental studies and assessments have been carried out to progress the EIS. This includes flora and fauna, biodiversity and ecological, hydrology and aquatic and cultural heritage investigations, as well as social impact assessments and traffic and transport surveys.

In July 2021 SMEC was awarded the main works detailed design, including further geotechnical investigations. Detailed design started immediately and continues.

The Dungowan pipeline contract was award to MPC Kinetic in February 2021. Ten trucks delivered the first 180 steel pipes to the Tamworth Regional Council water treatment facility in Calala. Local crane company Aldridge's Crane Hire was used to off load the pipes with their 30-tonne crane.

What will happen to the existing dam? Will it be decommissioned/destroyed?

There will be a decommissioning or partial decommissioning of the existing Dungowan Dam. This will be confirmed as part of the final business case and further developed as the project progresses.

Is hydro power generation being considered for the dam or pipeline?

The inclusion of hydro power generation as a project requirement is not being considered at this time as Water Infrastructure NSW is instead focusing on commencing this critical infrastructure. This does not mean hydro power generation will not be explored at a later date.


Will the new pipeline follow the route of the existing pipeline?

The new pipeline will not be identical to the existing pipeline. A preferred route has been determined and detailed design is expected to be complete in 2021 for the full 55km pipeline. The preferred route will run from Tamworth Regional Council’s Calala Water Treatment Plant to the new Dungowan Dam site.

Early works (Stage one) are planned to start late 2021 with a pipeline from Dungowan Village to Tamworth Regional Council’s Calala Water Treatment Plant. This work is expected to take 12 – 18 months to complete. Stage two is the pipeline from Dungowan Village to Dungowan Dam. It will be built in conjunction with the waternsw.com.au proposed new Dungowan Dam pending the outcomes of the Final Business Case and Environmental Impact Statement.

How was the preferred route of the pipeline determined?

A range of options have been considered to arrive at the preferred pipeline alignment, including options to the north and south of Dungowan Creek and the Peel River. We also consulted with Tamworth Regional Council to gain local perspectives on alignment options.

A multi-criteria analysis approach was used to evaluate different options. The preferred pipeline alignment was assessed taking into consideration factors like private properties, ecology, biodiversity, hydrology, cultural heritage, economic factors and geotechnical (ground) conditions.

Planning of the pipeline alignment aimed to:

  • Minimise crossing of property boundaries
  • Use existing roads and property pipeline easements where possible
  • Reduce alignment length
  • Optimise the hydraulic design of the pipeline
  • Minimise impacts on asphalt roads, residential homes, known heritage items, waterways and threatened ecological communities.

Property impacts

Which properties will be impacted by the project?

The proposed new Dungowan Dam will be constructed on Tamworth Regional Council owned land and the pipeline will be underground.

Water Infrastructure NSW is working closely with landowners to reduce potential impacts to properties that will be impacted during the construction and any ongoing maintenance of the underground pipeline. This may involve having legal easements agreed with landowners.

What do I do if I don’t want to provide an easement?

We understand that having personal property identified as potentially impacted can be unsettling and scary. We are committed to working closely alongside you, being transparent about the process that are followed and what to expect.

When will property easement discussions occur?

Water Infrastructure NSW will reach out to impacted landholders and arrange a meeting to discuss the easement acquisitions process as a first step. Landowners impacted by early works between the Calala Water Treatment Plant and the Dungowan Village will occur first (Stage 1).

Landowners impacted by Stage 2, Dungowan Village to Dungowan Dam will not be confirmed until the final business case and the EIS process is complete and approved.

Involving local businesses

Has a contract been awarded for the pipeline construction?

A design and construct contract has been awarded to MPC Kinetic to build a new 55km pipeline from the new Dungowan Dam to Tamworth Regional Council’s Calala Water Treatment Plant.

Will the project create jobs for locals?

Water Infrastructure NSW project partners and contractors will be selected based on their track record in using local suppliers and maximising local benefits from their projects.

Local businesses interested in becoming a part of the project are encouraged to register on the Water Infrastructure NSW database at www.dpie.water.nsw.gov.au/dungowan-dam or call 1800 318 045.

While we can’t guarantee there will be opportunities on the project for all registered business, it is the first port of call when the project is seeking support to deliver the project.

There are around 250 local businesses registered on the project portal and we expect to see a significant boost in the local economy during the next few years as a result of the project.

Water Infrastructure NSW also works closely with Tamworth Business Chamber in the delivery of this project. This includes regular updates to members, information evenings and sharing information and opportunities for local businesses with the project.


What environmental investigations are being carried out for this project?

Water Infrastructure NSW is carrying out environmental and technical investigations as part of developing the Environmental Impact Statement and the detailed dam and pipeline design and operational plans.

These investigations include:

  • Traffic and transport
  • Noise and vibration
  • Waste
  • Land use and property assessments
  • Bushfire impact and risk assessment
  • Flood
  • Aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultural heritage
  • Hydrology
  • Contamination and soils
  • Surface water and groundwater
  • Aquatic ecology
  • Terrestrial biodiversity
  • Social impact
  • Climate change risk and greenhouse gas
  • Environment sustainable development

What environmental impacts will the project have? 

Water Infrastructure NSW is currently developing an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the potential economic, environmental, and social impacts of the project.

What is the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)? 

The proposed new Dungowan Dam and pipeline project is a Critical State Significant Development. All State Significant Developments require an EIS as part of their planning application.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) are set out for the project and the EIS is developed in accordance with them.

The purpose of the EIS is to assess the potential economic, environmental and social impacts of the project.

Extensive environmental investigations began in June 2020. These form a range of technical reports on a variety of topics that make up the EIS. These topics include traffic and transport, construction impacts, biodiversity, Aboriginal and European heritage, flooding and many more.

Can I provide feedback on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

Yes. The EIS will go on formal exhibition so the community, government agencies and consent authorities can make informed submissions on the project.

Before then, we want to talk to you about each draft technical report to hear your feedback and answer your questions. You can view summaries of the reports that waternsw.com.au are already out, give us your feedback or ask questions via website now. We will then consider your feedback and incorporate it where relevant before the EIS goes on public exhibition. If you still have feedback at that point, you can make a formal submission to the department through their website or by post.

Operation and water supply

Who will own and operate the pipeline?

The pipeline will be owned by either WaterNSW or Tamworth Regional Council. The decision on who will own the pipeline sits with the state government and will form part of the Final Business Case. Water Infrastructure NSW, WaterNSW and Tamworth Regional Council are working closely on this.

How will the proposed new dam operate and how will water be allocated? 

How the water is shared and how the dam is operated will be defined by the relevant Water Sharing Plan which will be set by the NSW Government.

Who will be in charge of flow releases for environmental and irrigation purposes?

The owner of the dam will be responsible for operating the dam in accordance with the operational rules and Water Sharing Plan set by the NSW Government. These rules include making releases for environmental or other purposes.

Will landholders be able to access stock and domestic water from the new pipeline?

Water Infrastructure NSW is committed to ensuring any property currently connected to the existing pipeline is provided the opportunity to access a similar service moving forward. We are now investigating options on how to achieve this.

How much water security will be set aside for Tamworth town water security?

The new dam is expected to increase town water supply by 7GL per annum (based on the 2017 feasibility study). The ultimate allocation of water to Tamworth Regional Council will be informed by the current modelling underway and the rules set out by NSW Government in the Water Sharing Plan.

Will the proposed new dam ever fill?

All dams are designed to fill. However how long this will take will depend on the rainfall and weather patterns after completion. There are numerous examples of dams being built over the last 50 years that were forecast to take many years to fill but a series of major rainfall events filled them in significantly less time.

The value of this project is that it will allow us to capture and hold more water when it does rain to provide improved water availability and security during times of drought and low rainfall.

Water pricing

How will the proposed new dam and pipeline affect water pricing?

As part of this process, The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) will undertake an independent review to determine if the proposed portion of water to be charged to water users is fair and affordable.

The process for making a price determination for water users will involve an extensive consultation and review process by IPART allowing ample opportunity for local issues and concerns to be raised and addressed.

What is the cost of the proposed new dam and pipeline?

The final cost estimate of the proposed new dam and pipeline can not be determined until the Final Business Case and Environmental Impact Statement are complete and approved.

Initial announcements regarding funding were based on very early estimates, where factors such as the cost of potential land acquisitions and environmental offsets were unknown.

The value of these projects cannot be measured in dollars alone. These are critical pieces of infrastructure that will go a long way to future-proofing the community’s water supply for many years to come.