The initial plan for the Chaffey Dam upgrade included the realignment of 3.5km of the West Bank Road. Tamworth Regional Council has announced that realignment will not occur. This decision was made without proper consultation with the public and TRRRA is offering its support.
This is a brief history, and copies of documents, of the events regarding West Bank Road.
Following requests from landholders involved, if the road was closed, TRRRA organised a petition on their behalf, to be presented to Tamworth Regional Council and the NSW State Government.
Copy of petition organised by TRRRA
Val, David and Barbara about to present petitions with 2,180 signatures to local member Mr Kevin Anderson
14th September 2015
Copy of letters to and from Niall Blair MLC re petition:
Copy of letter from Duncan Gray MLC regarding the petition.
Tamworth Regional Council media releases:
Chaffey Dam expansion moves forward
Friday 30 May, 2014
Work on the $50 million expansion of Tamworth’s Chaffey Dam is expected to be underway in a matter of months following the awarding of the contract to construction firm John Holland.
NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water Kevin Humphries, Federal Minister for Agriculture and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce and Tamworth Regional Council today welcomed the awarding of the contract for the dam’s safety upgrade and augmentation by State Water Corporation.
The project will increase the storage’s capacity from 62,000ML to 100,000ML to secure the water supply for the city of Tamworth and Peel Valley Water Users.
Project funding includes $18.03 million towards the dam safety upgrade component from the NSW Government, and $31.781 million for augmentation which is funded by the Australian Government National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns ($18.145 million), the NSW Government ($9.668 million) and Tamworth Regional Council ($3.968 million).
Tamworth Regional Council Deputy Mayor Russell Webb said Council had been a driving force in pursuing the project since inception.
‘Council is well aware of how critical this augmentation project is for a viable Peel Valley irrigation industry and the long term security of Tamworth’s water supply,’ he said.
‘The people of Tamworth and district are very eager for construction to start and I’m extremely pleased to see the contract awarded.’
Mr Joyce said the signing of funding agreements was the result of funding partners the Commonwealth, NSW and local governments working with project managers State Water Corporation.
‘The Chaffey upgrade has been identified as a priority water infrastructure project for the Australian Government through the recently established ministerial working group of which I was appointed Chair,’ Mr Joyce said.
‘The Australian Government is committed to ensuring there are viable future water supplies to meet the needs of growing populations such as Tamworth.’
Mr Humphries said the NSW Government is committed to making sure dam infrastructure is safe for the long-term and able to deliver security of supply for both towns and water users.
‘Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson, Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson and I have worked closely with State Water and Tamworth Council and the Federal Government to see this project through to this important stage,’ Minister Humphries said.
‘I am very pleased that through the Chaffey Dam safety upgrade and augmentation upgrade the NSW Government is continuing its commitment to securing the region’s water supply.’
Brett Tucker from State Water Corporation said construction would commence in the coming months and the project was expected to take around two years to complete.
‘Construction will involve raising the dam wall with a reinforced earth embankment and 1.8 metre parapet wall and raising the morning glory spillway,’ he said.
‘The increased full supply level of the augmented dam will mean some roads, bridges and recreation facilities will need to be realigned or relocated.
‘We have spoken to the community at length about this project through a comprehensive consultation process which will continue throughout construction to make sure any impacts are mitigated where possible.’
Work starts on Chaffey Dam augmentation
Friday 10 October, 2014
Tamworth Region Mayor Col Murray has welcomed the start today of the $50 million Chaffey Dam safety upgrade and augmentation by the State Water Corporation.
He was at the dam for the official start to work along with Federal Minister for Agriculture and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce, NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water Kevin Humphries, Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson and Water NSW CEO David Harris.
Cr Murray said the augmentation project is critical to ensure a viable Peel Valley irrigation industry and the long term security of Tamworth’s water supply.
“Tamworth and Peel Valley water users have been eagerly anticipating this project for years,” he said.
“In addition to improving water security for people in the Tamworth area, this project is expected to bring economic benefits to the region with a workforce of between approximately 20 and 50 people required over the two-year construction period.” Project funding includes $31.781M for augmentation from the Australian Government National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns ($18.145M), the NSW Government ($9.668M) and Tamworth Regional Council ($3.968M).
It also includes $18.03 million from the NSW Government towards the dam safety upgrade component.
Mr Joyce said the project will increase the storage’s capacity from 62,000ML to 100,000ML to help secure the water supply for the city of Tamworth and Peel Valley water users.
“This project is an example of the regional water infrastructure investment needed to ensure regional Australia continues to prosper,” Mr Joyce said.
“The Australian Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group identified Chaffey Dam as a priority project and I am delighted to see the construction underway.”
Mr Humphries said the Chaffey project will increase the supply of reliable and affordable water to the region and help drought-proof the city into the future.
“The NSW Government is committed to building the State’s resilience to future droughts, and that commitment is being realised today with construction beginning on the Chaffey Dam augmentation,” Mr Humphries said.
“Through this work we are making sure our vital dam infrastructure is safe for the long-term and ensuring downward pressure on Peel Valley water prices by increasing over time the quantity of water available for trade.”
CEO of Water NSW – the entity combining State Water Corporation and Sydney Catchment Authority – David Harris said construction was expected to be completed in mid-2016.
“Construction will involve raising the dam wall with a reinforced earth embankment and parapet wall and raising the morning glory spillway,” Mr Harris said.
“The increased full supply level of the augmented dam will mean some roads, bridges and recreation facilities will need to be realigned or relocated.
“We have spoken to the community at length about this project through a comprehensive consultation process which will continue throughout construction to make sure any impacts are mitigated where possible.”
No Council funds for Chaffey Dam roadway
Wednesday 3 June, 2015
Tamworth Region Acting Mayor Russell Webb believes Tamworth Regional Council is “between a rock and a hard place” over the proposed partial closure of a road at Chaffey Dam.
Residents have expressed concern about plans to close a section of the Western Foreshore Road at Chaffey Dam.
Once the safety upgrade and augmentation work now underway at Chaffey Dam is completed, a 3.5 kilometre section of the Western Foreshore Road will be underwater when the water storage level reaches the Full Supply Level.
Cr Webb said the impact of the Chaffey Dam Augmentation on the road was first raised with Council by the then State Water in 2012.
“We were advised, and the matter was formally reported to Council at the time, the tendered cost of the augmentation of Chaffey Dam was above the budget for the project and State Water was looking at savings that could be made to allow the project to proceed,” he said. “One of those savings was to not proceed with the relocation of the Western Foreshore Road, part of which will be inundated with the new Full Supply Level of the dam.
“State Water asked Council, as the local roads authority, to support the partial closure of the Western Foreshore road instead of having the road relocated.
“There was a risk the Chaffey Dam augmentation project would not have gone ahead if significant savings could not be made and, caught between a rock and a hard place, Council agreed to support the part closure of the road.”
However, the road is one of the routes a handful of landowners use to travel to Nundle and Woolomin and they say closing the road will cause them a major inconvenience.
Six properties are directly affected by the partial road closure – two on the Nundle end of the section of the Western Foreshore Road to be closed and four on the Woolomin end.
“The extra distance to travel to Woolomin for the worst affected property on the Nundle end of the road closure is about three kilometres,” Cr Webb said. “For the worst affected property on the Woolomin side of the closure the extra distance to get to Nundle is 5.8 kilometres.”
Council has committed to replacing the existing load limited bridge over the Peel River on the Woolomin end of the road closure to allow heavy vehicles to service properties.
Cr Webb said the road could be relocated allowing it to remain open but this would require the construction of a new bridge as well as 3.5 kilometres of gravel road. Water NSW has estimated the cost of this work at $6.5 Million and this money is not in the current project budget.
“Tamworth Regional Council has already contributed $4.669 million to the augmentation of Chaffey Dam including $700,000 for a new bridge over the Peel River at Woolomin and the $876,000 contribution which was originally sought from Peel Valley irrigators but they declined to pay – there was a risk the work to increase the dam’s capacity would not go ahead and so Council came to the party,” he said.
“Whilst contributing any further funds to the project to allow the relocation of the Western Foreshore Road is a matter for Council, I think Council has provided enough and I would be reluctant to agree to any further financial contribution.”
An application to close part of the Western Foreshore Road is not expected to be lodged until later this year or early next year and the new bridge over the Peel has been constructed at Woolomin. As part of the road closure process, the community will have the opportunity to voice their opinions.
Council to lobby for West Bank Road solution
Wednesday 23 September, 2015
A petition of more than 2300 signatures opposing the closure of West Bank Road at Woolomin as a through road was formally presented to Mayor Col Murray at last night’s meeting.
The petition called on Council to rescind its resolution of 14 May 2014 where it agreed to “pursue the closure of a section of West Bank Road” as part of the safety upgrade and augmentation of Chaffey Dam.
Tamworth Regional Residents and Ratepayers Association has been circulating the petition which calls on Council to “liaise with the NSW Government and do all things to ensure that the realignment of the road be done so that West Bank Road is retained as a through road”.
This morning Cr Murray said Councillors have agreed to continue to lobby Federal and State governments and seek additional options to the mooted $6.5 million realignment.
“We believe there may be a less costly option which may be more palatable to the funding partners,” he said.
Four community members – Val Majkus, secretary of Tamworth Regional Residents and Ratepayers Association; Tony Jones, a property manager; Rory Murphy, a landholder and Susanne Wishart, a relative of land owners – addressed Councillors about the road issue last night in the community consultation part of the meeting.
Ms Majkus handed the petition to Cr Murray. She told the meeting when the community was consulted about the Chaffey Dam safety upgrade and augmentation a bridge and culvert for West Bank Road was included. She said the decision to partially close West Bank Road was reached without community consultation.
Cr Murray said each of the speakers were strong advocates for affected landholders and presented strong cases to support their calls for West Bank Road to be retained as a through road.
Tamworth Regional Council has already contributed $4.669 million to the augmentation of Chaffey Dam including $700,000 for a new bridge over the Peel River at Woolomin. Council also paid the $876,000 contribution which was originally sought from Peel Valley irrigators which they declined to pay. Council contributed the extra money because there was a risk the work to increase the dam’s capacity would not go ahead.
Six properties are directly affected by the partial road closure – two on the Nundle end of the section of the Western Foreshore Road to be closed and four on the Woolomin end.
The extra distance to travel to Woolomin for the most affected property on the Nundle end of the road closure is about three kilometres. For the worst affected property on the Woolomin side of the closure the extra distance to get to Nundle is 5.8 kilometres.
Tamworth Regional Residents and Ratepayers Association has also been circulating another petition which also calls on the State Government to “urgently provide more funds to the Chaffey Dam Stage 2 budget to enable the realignment of West Bank Road” and allow it to be retained as a through road.
In a letter to Council, the association said it has asked State Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson, to table it in Parliament.
Council has previously advised the community that an application to close part of the West Bank Road is not expected to be lodged until later this year or early next year. As part of the road closure process, the community will be consulted and have the opportunity to voice their opinions.
Council calls for local MP’s support on road issue
Wednesday 24 November, 2015
As a stakeholder of the Chaffey Dam augmentation, Tamworth Regional Council is calling on the State Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson, to seek a solution from the State Government which ensures Westbank Road remains open.
Council has provided $4.669 million towards the dam augmentation project. It was first announced in 2011 by the NSW Government with the Federal Government the third funding partner.
In the original proposal by State Water (now Water NSW) a bridge and culvert were proposed to ensure the Westbank Road could remain open. This money was then cut from the project by the State Government and the Westbank Road now faces permanent closure because it will be covered with water when the larger capacity dam is full.
Frustrated by the State Government’s resistance to take responsibility for this outcome, Council wrote to Kevin Anderson this month asking him to lobby State Government on behalf of the community.
Tamworth Region Mayor Col Murray said Council is disappointed in Mr Anderson’s efforts to date in finding a suitable resolution.
“We wrote to the Member for Tamworth and detailed the plight of the Woolomin community and the impact a possible road closure would have on those residents,” he said. “As our voice in NSW Parliament we expect Mr Anderson to fight strongly for the needs of this community.
“We provided Mr Anderson with a copy of a letter received from the NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay which he said he believes the relocation of the Westbank Road is a matter for Council.
“Given the Minister took on the roads portfolio long after the Chaffey Dam project was announced, we expect he may be unaware that it was the State Government who removed the contingency for Westbank Road. We are depending on the Member for Tamworth to ensure the State Government is fully informed and a solution is found.”
Cr Murray said Councillors were disappointed to learn this week that Mr Anderson simply forwarded the Council’s most recent letter to the Minister for Roads when it also asked for his support in lobbying the Minister for Water under which the Chaffey Dam project actually sits.
“Council acknowledges that Westbank Road is a local road and would traditionally be the financial responsibility of Council, however this is a unique situation and it is unreasonable to expect Council to fund the road’s relocation as a result of State Government works,” Cr Murray said.
“The State Government needs to take responsibility for its own project, and the Member for Tamworth needs to take this message to the Government.”
“Our role in Local Government is to consult with the community regarding their needs. Where it is not within Council’s mandate to deliver a particular service or facility, it is then our job to lobby State and Federal governments accordingly. I will be delivering another letter to Mr Anderson detailing our expectations of him on this issue.”
Northern Daily Leader Extracts
$6m road row: Dam upgrade budget cuts leave locals high and dry
June 4, 2015
NATIONALS MP Kevin Anderson and Tamworth Regional Council are on a collision course over a road that will be submerged when the enlarged Chaffey Dam is completed.
Mr Anderson says he’s backing a lobby group of landowners and local contractors who want the road left open, but the council, as well as the dam owner Water NSW, want it closed because the cost of upgrading it will top $6million.
Deputy mayor Russell Webb says he’s certain ratepayers won’t cop an estimated $6.5 million bill to keep a road that has only a handful of landowners on it and only inconveniences them by having to travel an extra few kilometres to reach Nundle or Tamworth.
But a strong group that now numbers harvest and rural service contractors, tourists, locals and even emergency services are saying the issue of closing Westbank Rd is not so simple.
Landowners Rory and Patricia Murphy are among the opponents. They’ve been living in the shadow of land resumption for the dam upgrade since about 1989 and say that apart from completely blocking access to their paddocks on the bottom side of the road, the road closure will also hamper tourism traffic, risk wild animal, accident and fire safety, and drive big machinery movements from the safety of the wider back road to the narrower, twisting main Nundle road.
“It’s not just about us. Yes, we do have a vested interest, but we’ve found there’s a lot of people who are very strongly against this,” Mrs Murphy said yesterday.
The road, commonly known as the back road around Chaffey Dam between Woolomin and Nundle, is a 13.5km stretch where at least three kilometres is expected to go under water when the Chaffey Dam augmentation, which raises total water capacity by 60 per cent, is completed.
The new high-water marks will effectively push the level of a creek the road crosses above the road surface in places and render it impassable.
Under the original dam design contracts, the road was going to be rebuilt near the high water marks – realigned higher up the hillside, so the road was still usable.
However, budget overruns on the dam build have apparently forced the dam owner, Water NSW and TRC, which has already contributed over $4 million to the $50 million joint project cost, to review some parts of the works.
The western dam foreshore road has become a high profile victim – but local MP Kevin Anderson has spoken out publicly saying he wants the council and/or the government water department to fund the extras to keep the road open.
After a meeting with about 20 residents this week he told TRC in no uncertain terms he was backing their stand.
“This potential road closure would cause significant problems for surrounding residents and businesses and those who met with me, stated very clearly that it would harm their businesses, and impact on their daily lives and they did not want it closed,” Mr Anderson said.
“The talk of closing this road has happened because in 2012 Water NSW was looking to save money on the Chaffey Dam upgrade and asked the council, as the local roads authority, to support the partial closure of the western foreshore road, instead of redirecting the road and building a bridge. Council agreed to this but this plan will restrict access for landholders.”
His stand has angered the council and Cr Webb agrees there’s now a standoff and a row looming.
He’s also warned that the impasse puts the whole project in jeopardy and will delay the dam augmentation.
“A shortfall in funds all of a sudden puts the project at risk and a few things have had to be trimmed back,” Cr Webb said.
“The rebuilding of West Bank Rd was one.”
Cr Webb said he believed ratepayers would argue there were other priorities to a $6.5 million spend on that road, and priorities more important and bigger.
The council was between a rock and a hard place, he said.
He understood the major issue was that a couple of landowners would have to travel a bit further from home and that it was a shortcut for some contractors.
But one of those, Ray Bryant of Loomberah, says the back road is more about safety than a shorter drive.
“I know at least four major contractors and those guys are moving lots of big stock,” Mr Bryant said.
He takes seed drills, balers and other haymaking equipment up and down the valley, especially in summer.
The back road is a better road; wider, less winding, quieter and yes, quicker, but it also means more economical in terms of fuel and transport costs.
Importantly, he says, it’s safer for everyone – whereas the main Nundle-Tamworth road has more light traffic on it.
The council says it will spend $700,000 upgrading the Woolomin bridge, which is currently load limited to ten tonnes, to heavy vehicle standard to provide greater access for local traffic but that hasn’t appeased the locals.
They reckon there isn’t a satisfactory compromise to complete closure of the back road. Building a higher section would be the compromise, they say, because it wouldn’t penalise anyone.
Mr Anderson said his stand was stronger given the access risks the road closure caused and while he’s believed to have told the council privately that they need to stump up the money to keep the road open, there are others who say the state government needs to contribute too because the budget overruns are not the fault of the council.
The Murphys also agree it shouldn’t just be the council to wear the road debt.
Mr Anderson has publicly rebuked the council over the issue and said they need to “come up with a solution, Water NSW and Tamworth Regional Council need to fix this problem.
Volley of words – War over Westbank Rd water
June 5, 2015
The row over a road skirting Chaffey Dam plunged into more argument yesterday as the debate between Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) and local MP Kevin Anderson hit some more bumps.
Mr Anderson lobbed a return volley of words late in the day after some councillors suggested the state politician should be asking for extra road funds from his Coalition government rather than demanding the council stump up some
$6.5 million to build a “water-proof” road and bridge above the dam water line.
The row erupted after local residents around Westbank Rd, which skirts the western side of Chaffey Dam between Woolomin and Nundle, found out that the road was set to be partially closed when it becomes submerged from the dam augmentation project underway.
They fronted Nationals member Kevin Anderson last week who told them he’d go in to bat for them.
In doing so, he told TRC and Water NSW, which is the dam build government agency, to sort it out.
Tamworth Regional Council has reacted by saying it shouldn’t have to fund the estimated $6.5 million to rebuild a 3.5km section of the road that will be submerged, or a new bridge on that road near Hydes Creek.
In the middle are a couple of landowners who will be cut off at those points – but they’ve lobbied another 20 stakeholders who say keeping the road open is vital for emergency services, RFS safety, contract machinery movements and tourism traffic.
Late yesterday, Mr Anderson came out with a rallying call – saying there was a commonsense solution to the whole problem and TRC should “get over its chest beating”.
“I haven’t asked anyone for money and if TRC has got their nose out of joint because they think I want them to pay, that’s not true,” Mr Anderson said.
“My view is let common sense prevail. I’m backing the community and I’m backing common sense.”
Mr Anderson argues that modelling of the new increased-capacity Chaffey Dam – which will be enlarged by 60 per cent – shows the road and bridge will only be under water at 100 per cent capacity.
He says monitoring and maintenance can keep it in usable condition when the water doesn’t inundate it.
“The likelihood of water staying there for a long time is highly unlikely,” Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson denied his solution was too simplistic to work or that it placed an unbearable burden on TRC in relation to safety and liability as the road authority.
“What’s the difference to Wallamore Rd for instance,” he said.
But acting mayor Russell Webb dismissed the Anderson argument out of hand.
“Because TRC is the roads authority, there’s no way in the world as a council we would expose anybody travelling that road and having an accident to a risk because of the condition of the road from being inundated,” Cr Webb said.
Mr Anderson said he met with Water Minister Niall Blair yesterday afternoon and outlined his strategy.
He said at no time did he ask the minister for money or discuss the projected cost of the road build – because he didn’t need to.
The budget blowout suggestion came in the wake of the projected cost of the dam upgrade against the final tender for the scope of works, back in 2012.
At that stage State Water told TRC some of the previous works, like the Westbank Rd rebuild, which had been included in preliminary projections, had to be dumped, or the project was at risk.
Cr Mark Rodda yesterday maintained the latest issue was another example of the state government cost shifting its financial obligations onto local government.
“It can be clearly demonstrated that the buck stops with the state government on this issue,” Cr Rodda argued.
“Even the government will probably not see the value in constructing a new $6 million road for 20-plus residents. It’s not unlike the Mine Rd issue at Barraba.
“I cannot imagine why he (Kevin Anderson) would not have asked his government for more funding other than the realisation that the answer to his requests would probably be ‘no’, particularly given the huge amount of money required.”
Dam-road blue for MP, council
June 10, 2015
Ahh, a stoush between the local council and the local politician. Smacks of days gone by when the local government authority demanded better deals from the state government representative and railed against the now-incidental cost-shifting we live with.
A bit of a blue has broken out between Kevin Anderson and Tamworth Regional Council.
The Nationals MP – uncharacteristically, unless it’s a hardline square-up to unionists or wayward workers – has taken on the council over the issue of about 3.5km of gravel road around the back end or western side of Chaffey Dam.
The council has described its predicament as being “between a rock and a hard place” over the proposed partial closure of Westbank Rd.
It is indignant at a stern reprimand from the MP to sort out a solution – namely, finding the money to rebuild the road so locals can use it once the old one gets flooded by a future high-water level.
Subsequently, Mr Anderson offered a simple solution: leave it open when it’s high and dry.
The council seems the scapegoat of a joint dam project that overflowed into the red.
Bringing it back into line with a budget line can be achieved, decided the dam owner, government agency State Water, by not rebuilding the road and simply closing it to through traffic.
Now, you might say the high level mark mightn’t be reached often enough – but it’s fair to say you don’t want to spend maintenance money on a road that gets flooded sometimes. Safety concerns also come into play.
State Water apparently thinks the cost of rebuilding the road up above the high dam level and a connecting bridge is about $6.5 million.
Obviously the council is loath to waste ratepayer dollars, but there’s a body of people out there who reckon they’re not the only ones going to be left high and dry.
They argue it’s not just about three or four landholders having to drive a little further to get to town.
It’s about many people.
It’s about emergency services being locked out if there’s an accident, a fire or the unchecked spread of wild animals.
It’s about tourist drives where you can get up close with water.
It’s about agricultural harvesting and machinery contractors having a safer route up the valley for work.
The council, when it became clear there was a shortfall in the budget, agreed with State Water to drop the Westbank Rd rebuild idea, or risk holding up progress on the dam.
Now they’re damned – unless a compromise can be reached that satisfies every one.
Bring West Bank Rd matters into the open
June 13, 2015
The story in The Northern Daily Leader on Thursday, June 4 (“$6m road row”) should raise alarm bells amongst the residents and rate-payers of the region.
It has been revealed that the Tamworth Regional Council, in 2012, in order to save money and not delay the upgrade of Chaffey Dam, agreed to allow more than 3km of the western dam foreshore road (known as West Bank Rd) to be closed.
This was done with what now appears to have been inadequate consultation with the people who would be affected by such an action and is of great concern.
It appears that there is a much bigger problem than first thought.
It is essential that all of the facts are brought out into the open so that this situation can be resolved.
It would be appropriate, therefore, that Kevin Anderson, our local MP, arrange a meeting between Tamworth Regional Council and State Water NSW to address the issue.
This will be one of the agenda items at our next meeting on June 18, with concerned community members most welcome to attend.
Tamworth Residents and Ratepayers Association
Association hits the streets in fight to stop road closure
Sept. 10, 2015
ROAD PETITION: Ratepayers’ association president Bob Murray with landholders Andrea and Brett Warden are asking for supporters to sign up to save Westbank Rd, around the back of Chaffey Dam, from closure. Photo: Barry Smith 080915BSE06
THE Tamworth ratepayers’ group has taken to the streets to try to stop a road around Chaffey Dam being closed and is signing up city residents to help their cause.
The local association has manned a stall in Peel St near the post office for the past two weeks, putting together two petitions, and will be there again today and tomorrow before collating one petition to go to Parliament with local MP Kevin Anderson.
Spokeswoman Val Majkus said they hoped to reach a total of 2000 by tomorrow and would collect the final signatures at Nundle on Sunday.
The association has gone in to bat for a group of about 20 landholders and other users of Westbank Rd, which skirts behind Chaffey Dam and has been earmarked for closure.
The increase in the dam capacity will bring about 3.5km of the 13.5km road below the top water mark and Tamworth Regional Council has agreed to a NSW government water department idea to close it.
The move came as a budgetary one.
The council has argued it shouldn’t have to fund the estimated $6.5 million to rebuild a 3.5km section of the road that will be submerged, or a new bridge.
The association said closing the road would impact severely on landholders and others who used the road as an alternative route and a safer and easier access for many farm machinery movers, rather than the narrow Dungowan-Nundle Rd.
The petitions to the council and the state government ask for more money for the Chaffey Dam budget to enable the realignment to occur.
One also asks the council to rescind its decision to close part of Westbank Rd.
Locals lobby for Chaffey Dam’s road
Sept. 15, 2015
ROAD WARRIORS: Ratepayers’ association members Barbara York, left, Val Majkus and David Mckinnon, right, present their petition to local MP Kevin Anderson on Monday to keep Westbank Rd open. Photo: Gareth Gardner 140915GGE01
PETITIONS calling for a road around the back of Chaffey Dam to be left open for landholders, farm contractors and tourists are on their way to two levels of government, after a Tamworth street campaign.
The Tamworth Regional Residents and Ratepayers Association has delivered one of the two petitions to state Nationals MP Kevin Anderson to take to Parliament to lobby their case.
Association members Barbara York, Val Majkus and David McKinnon presented a petition of 2180 signatures to Mr Anderson on Monday and he plans to table it in Parliament tomorrow.
That petition is asking that moves to close Westbank Rd, around the back foreshores of the dam, be dumped and that money be found to upgrade the road so it can remain open when the new augmentation work is completed.
Under the dam upgrade plans, a 3.5km stretch of the road would be submerged when the dam is at capacity.
The Office of State Water and Tamworth Regional Council discussed the closure a couple of years ago.
The council says it was asked to agree to the move for the sake of a budgetary saving.
The council revealed the road moves late last year, arguing it shouldn’t have to fund the estimated $6.5 million to rebuild the road, but locals reacted angrily and lobbied Mr Anderson.
In a fiery exchange in June, Mr Anderson basically told the council and state department to work it out and come up with the money.
A compromise to leave the road open during low water levels was dismissed by the council as simplistic and unsafe.
Some councillors argued Mr Anderson should seek extra funding from his government for the works.
Ms Majkus said the lack of consultation from State Water and Tamworth Regional Council made them turn to Mr Anderson to help fix the problem.
“The petition is calling for more funding to upgrade the road so it can stay open, because of the access needed for locals, emergency services, businesses and tourists, and one property will become landlocked,” Ms Majkus said.
Mr Anderson said the “clear and necessary solution” was for the Office of State Water and the council to provide more funds to the budget to allow the road to remain open.
“Failing the availability of more funding, we then need to look at other options, such as temporary road closures when the road becomes flooded, rather than simply permanently closing the road,” he said.
Mr Anderson said he would table the petition in Parliament this week.
Mayor blasts MP – $6m Chaffey Dam row sparks road rage
Sept. 20, 2015
TAMWORTH mayor Col Murray has launched a blistering attack on local MP Kevin Anderson over a funding row with the Chaffey Dam upgrade.
Cr Murray yesterday added more fuel to the fiery argument between the Tamworth council and the Nationals’ member, slamming Mr Anderson’s handling of an issue over a road at the back of the dam.
In a savage salvo of words, Cr Murray criticised Mr Anderson, accusing him of wanting Tamworth ratepayers to pick up a bill that was rightly the responsibility of his Coalition government.
The mayor has condemned the MP for his failure to lobby his government for funds, but back ratepayer petitions that demand the council cough up more money instead.
But Cr Murray, who publicly backed Mr Anderson in the last election with high-profile television testimonials, has also slammed the politician for being prepared to saddle Tamworth water users with even higher water prices, more debt or suffer other offsets to subsidise the funds.
The mayor’s furious reaction came when Mr Anderson announced late last week he would table a petition with some 2180 signatures on it in state parliament.
It calls for the council and State Water, the owner of the dam, to provide more funding for the second stage of the
$45 million upgrade so that Westbank Rd, around the western foreshores of the enlarged dam, could be upgraded and left open for public use.
The first arguments came in June when it was revealed Westbank Rd had become a casualty of a budget blowout and State Water asked TRC, as the local roads authority, to formally close the road to the public.
Originally it had been set for an upgrade, because a 3.5km stretch of it will be submerged at full water capacity when the enlarged Chaffey Dam is completed next year.
The realignment and upgrade had been costed at $6.5 million.
This year, local landholders and road users lobbied Mr Anderson about keeping it open – and the MP sided with them publicly, suggesting it could be with some common sense solutions, or State Water and TRC could sort out a budget solution by finding some more funds between them to move the road to drier ground.
But the latest moves with the political petition have enraged the mayor, and his deputy Russell Webb, as well as senior TRC executives.
“I’m pretty amazed and angry he’s come out and suggested that local government should fund this,” Cr Murray said.
“The state government has the responsibility for the upgrade of Chaffey Dam.
“Now you have the local member supporting a move that demands council residents should find more funds for something when he should be calling on his government to do that. We already pay the dearest raw water charges in NSW and now our local member is suggesting we should pay more.”
Cr Murray said TRC had already contributed more than $4 million to the $45 million dam project, including about $1.7 million more than originally intended because they’d added another $700,000 to upgrade an alternate dam road route around Woolomin for rural users.
The council also kicked in about an extra $900,000 originally promised by the Peel Valley water users group.
Cr Murray said TRC had agreed to contribute extra ratepayer funds and close the dam road because if it didn’t, the dam augmentation was in danger of not going ahead.
“But Mr Anderson seems quite happy now to table this petition and support calls for this council to put more of their ratepayer funds into this project.
“The irony is that if this does happen, it will increase the cost of the dam and allow the water authority to increase the cost of our water – and who pays? The community pays.
“He’s asking residents to subsidise the state government. He should go down to Macquarie St and talk to his government about fixing this anomaly. It’s one thing to belt up the council, but he’s managing to belt up the community here.”
Cr Murray was also critical of the Ratepayers and Residents association.
“I think they’re either naive or ignorant about the facts when they can support a petition that basically calls for their ratepayers to pay more – or think the council can find a bucket of money to pay for this,” he said.
The mayor says he’s told Mr Anderson that a far more practical and palatable option might be that in dry times Westbank Rd be made a farm-gate road, where landholders and rural users had access through a private locks arrangement.
“Westbank Rd isn’t like Scott Rd or other floodplain roads, where there’s some short period of inundation of maybe up to 12 hours or so.”
“Chaffey Dam could completely inundate that road for months or years. Having temporary access would be a nightmare,” he said.
“What I would encourage Kevin Anderson pursue is a more cost-effective, more palatable option in a farm-gate road, which would avoid liability and risk assessment and environmental controls.
All roads must lead to sense
Sept. 23, 2015
Kevin Anderson fired a shot across their bows originally back in June. Then, deputy mayor Russell Webb, in the absence of the mayor Col Murray, told the Nationals MP he had it wrong and his approach was simplistic.
The row of the Westbank Rd around the back end of Chaffey Dam near Woolomin simmered. When Mr Anderson seemed to encourage a ratepayers’ group to call on the council to fix the road mess with its money last week, TRC was enraged.
So, in effect the mayor took a baseball bat to Kev but then, in a backroad U-turn on Tuesday night, dropped the bat and picked up the olive branch. Some political muscle being flexed but a bit of strategic fight being displayed.
So now TRC is taking on the advocacy role above the local member in trying to talk his masters into coughing up some more cash for part of a road that will be flooded at capacity and therefore unusable to about six local properties, but also plenty of subcontractors and some rural back-roads drivers.
About 3.5km of the road will be cut off at these times. While plenty might argue it might take years for Chaffey to reach 100 per cent and inundate the road and then retreat when it drops, leaving it open again for traffic, that’s too simplistic and fraught with danger to be an option.
The realigned higher road, with a connecting bridge, was costed at $6.5 million by the state government three years ago and was originally part of the plans but subsequently became a casualty in the budget blowout.
TRC rightly yesterday suggested it wanted to act in the interests of its residents and ratepayers – but also correctly it shouldn’t expect those people to be asked to shell out of council coffers what in effect is a state government property and project.
Mr Anderson rightly yesterday supported the lobbying move, saying he’d already made representation to the appropriate minister, Niall Blair, over the issue and was waiting on an official response.
So TRC now will try to pull the big budget bodies together and get some consensus.
It might mean a cheaper road – and that’s perhaps the council’s first port of call: coming up with a road that is still public, still safe, still maintainable and still acceptable to the price.
And not another burden on the ratepayer.
Chaffey Dam road truce as options sought
Sept. 23, 2015
THE flaming row over a road at the back of Chaffey Dam has been hosed down, with moves under way to try to force a compromise off the back of more government funding.
Tamworth Regional Council yesterday offered to try to broker a deal to get some more federal and state government stakeholders into the budget talks, to solve a fiery argument over plans to close part of a back rural road.
The Westbank Rd closure plan came three years ago in the wake of a budget blowout in the huge augmentation project on Chaffey Dam, which will see capacity rise over 60 per cent and the high water level inundate part of the road.
It has led to a verbal stoush between the council – particularly its mayor and deputy Col Murray and Russell Webb – and local Nationals MP Kevin Anderson.
Things came to a heated head at the weekend, after Cr Murray slammed the MP for suggesting city ratepayers should find more money to rebuild the road up the hill.
The mayor argued Mr Anderson should be tackling his state government ministers for the money, because it was their project and their dam.
But TRC yesterday suggested it would lobby the federal and state bodies to try to find money for a cheaper option.
Cr Murray said TRC would try to find an alternative to a road plan which had been originally costed at $6.5 million but then dropped because of budgetary blowouts.
“But we believe there may be a less costly option which may be more palatable to the funding partners,” Cr Murray said yesterday.
The verbal ceasefire came after the local ratepayers group on Tuesday night presented a petition of more than 2300 signatures opposing the closure of Westbank Rd at Woolomin as a through-road.
Yesterday, Mr Anderson welcomed the move from TRC to find some more options for the road.
He said an agreement from TRC to support the residents in a push to retain Westbank Rd was a great step in finding a solution.
And he said he’d also continued to liaise with the minister, Niall Blair, to find a solution.
TRC water director Bruce Logan is expected to seek talks with the major funding and project stakeholders from the original dam steering committee.
He indicated yesterday that he’d be looking to get some common ground from those two other levels of government, and negotiate a feasible and workable solution.
Mr Logan also admitted that while TRC was just about to call for tenders for a $700,000 upgrade to another bridge at Woolomin – which would have served as an alternate route for heavy vehicle access once Westbank Rd was closed – that might be held over while the other road issue was resolved.
The council has already contributed $4.67 million to the augmentation of Chaffey Dam, including that $700,000.
That’s a lot more than it originally was expected to pour in, but the council says it added the extra because it wanted to ensure the upgrade went ahead to secure more water for Tamworth’s development.
The council said six properties were directly affected by the partial road closure: two on the Nundle end of the section of the western foreshore road to be closed, and four on the Woolomin end.
The extra distance to travel to Woolomin for the most-affected property on the Nundle end is about 3km, and 5.8km for the worst-affected property on the Woolomin side.
Chaffey dam road imbroglio deepens
Nov. 25, 2015
THE war of words over the possible closure of a road around Chaffey Dam has entered a new phase, after Tamworth Regional councillors expressed their frustration over the ongoing stalemate with the state government.
Councillors heard at Tuesday night’s meeting a response to a letter sent to Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson had been received this week but had failed to answer the questions council had included.
The issue concerns the Chaffey Dam augmentation project and that when complete, a section of the existing Western Foreshore (Westbank) Rd will be inundated when the dam is full.
Local residents have raised their concerns over any proposed closure of this section of road, with the matter coming down to just which level of government would be responsible for putting up the funding needed to relocate it.
Another suggested course of action has been to keep the road open, and only close it when the water level rises, one not favoured by council.
The council also maintains that because the state government is responsible for the dam augmentation project, it’s responsible for the issue that’s arisen with the road.
The letter to Mr Anderson had sought to clarify if the state government was of the opinion it was council’s responsibility or, if the relocation was seen as a legitimate cost of the Chaffey Dam augmentation project, could the issue of funding be raised with NSW water minister Niall Blair.
Mayor Col Murray said it
was frustrating the letter had failed to provide these answers, and that questions had been referred back to the council.
He said he would be happy to personally deliver the letter back to Mr Anderson and explain what council was seeking, a course of action endorsed by his colleagues.
Mr Anderson told The Leader yesterday he had taken up the issue with Mr Blair’s office, but needed more information from the council about what its modelling showed in relation to Westbank Rd and the frequency of inundation.
“They’re questions no doubt the minister will ask,” he said.
Mr Anderson said he was committed to keeping the lines of communication open, and going to the minister on council’s behalf about the options available.
Cr Russell Webb said on Tuesday it was a state government project and the local MP should be seeking responses from his departments.
“We’re asking him for an answer – it shouldn’t be him asking us for answers,” he said.
Cr Juanita Wilson said council’s state and federal counterparts needed to become involved.
Council to discuss the closure of dam road
March 7, 2016
A Tamworth council meeting tonight will consider whether to formally close off a back road around Chaffey Dam, but pressure has been mounting for the road at the centre of a row between political and civic leaders to be left open until it actually goes under water.
Tamworth Regional Council will look at a report at its first March meeting that it move to close a 3.5km section of Westbank Rd, which skirts the western foreshores of the dam at Bowling Alley Point.
However, water director Bruce Logan has indicated to the councillors that they also have three supplementary options in relation to the road, which prompted a row between TRC and local Nationals MP Kevin Anderson and some landowners in the affected area last year.
Mr Logan has reported that in the wake of the state government telling the council, and minister Niall Blair reaffirming that view only last month, that it wasn’t prepared to stump up any more money to relocate the road, TRC could elect to pay the full cost itself, permanently close that part of the road when flooded, or leave it open and only close it at times when it went underwater.
The local residents and ratepayers group has lobbied the council to vote for the third option at tonight’s meeting and it is also known that a number of councillors have also been contacted by road users to see that Westbank Rd remains open or is relocated up the hill so it doesn’t get flooded.
The present $44 million dam project includes augmenting the size of Chaffey and studies have shown that, under the enlarged dam capacity, three sections of the road would go underwater when it reached 90 per cent full.
But the relocation of the road higher up the slope of the western edge of the dam had been costed at $6.5 million and the government, through its water division, said it wasn’t prepared to spend that extra money to do the job.
That basically left the road sitting in the TRC corner but the council has been adamant it and ratepayers shouldn’t have to pay for it either, even though it investigated a cheaper road cost at about $4 million.
The road row erupted last year when Mr Anderson backed protests by road users, including contractors and local landholders, that they’d have to travel further to get between home and work if the road was closed.
There were calls then for TRC to take on the road responsibility when the government asked TRC to officially close the road, because it is the local authority.
The dam capacity will rise by over 60 per cent under the current works – but right now, at its current capacity, it’s sitting at 44.6 per cent, and as a larger dam would be much lower than that.
Given the state of the dam and the expectation that it might take a long time to get back up to 90 per cent – and pose a real issue – the council could take a compromise wait-and-see stance.
Mr Logan has presented data and engineering modelling in his report that the closure periods could be in the order of 50 per cent of the time.
TRRRA Facebook extracts:
Copy of TRRRA submission to Tamworth Regional Council re closing of West Bank Road.
Tamworth Regional Council Business Papers & Minutes:
Business Paper and Minutes for Tamworth Regional Council meeting 11 December 2012
Business Paper and Minutes for Tamworth Regional Council meeting 28 May 2013
Business Paper and Minutes for Tamworth Regional Council meeting 13 May 2014
Business Paper for Tamworth Regional Council meeting 8th March 2016
Minutes for Tamworth Regional Council meeting 8th March 2016
Final Tamworth Regional Council Media report following council meeting.
Westbank Road to remain open
Tuesday 8 March, 2016
In a move seen as a “fair compromise” for Woolomin residents, Tamworth Regional Councillors tonight agreed to leave Westbank Road on the Chaffey Dam foreshore open to traffic and only close a 3.5km section when necessary due to the level of water stored in the dam.
They decided to have cul de sacs constructed as well as barriers and boom gates and associated signage installed at each end of the section that will be closed on occasion and leave the full length of Westbank Road open.
They also agreed to close the section of the road when the storage in the new augmented Chaffey Dam reaches a relative level of 523.2m (about 86 per cent of the augmented storage) and reopen the road following necessary inspection and maintenance and not before the storage reaches a relative level of 523.2m.
Council will provide funding of $40,000 from the local works reserve for the works associated with this decision. Councillors agreed to request the Director of Regional Services to provide advice to Council after an inundation event on the cost associated with opening and closing the road, including maintenance and inspection costs.
It was decided Council will make representations to the State Government to ensure an appropriate access is provided to the whole of Rory and Patricia Murphy’s property during time of inundation of the road.
The report Councillors considered outlined three options for the future of the road which will have three different sections underwater when the new augmented Chaffey Dam is at its new Full Supply Level.
Acting Mayor Russell Webb said the decision is a “very good compromise” for the Woolomin community.
“Councillors came to the decision because it is the most financially sound option while giving community members the outcome they have been asking for,” he said. “We need to give this option a chance and we will assess the road following its first inundation and any rehabilitation costs there may be following each inundation.”
Letter received thanking TRRRA for supporting West Bank Road.
Copy of correspondence to Kevin Anderson MP from effected landholders:
WaterNSW progress update on build June 2015