Tamworth’s new drought response pipeline has received environmental approval, assisting in creating water supply security for the regional city.

The project underwent rigorous assessment processes that included consideration of threatened species and their habitat.

The recently constructed pipeline runs 18km from the Chaffey Dam to connect into existing infrastructure and will extend the supply of town water for Tamworth by at least six months without any further rain.

Tamworth is still experiencing the effects of drought, with levels in Chaffey Dam falling to 14 per cent as a result of three of the driest years on record in the region. This decision was critical in securing the water supply needed to continue the city’s ongoing function.

Nationals Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said, “I am glad that this approval has now been finalised.

“It recognises the importance of working with regional communities to ensure we are managing water in the interests of the people who depend on it, particularly given the false conjecture about commonwealth environmental water, which is not being held in the Chaffey Dam or Peel Valley.”

The conditions included in the approval decision aim to minimise and offset environmental impacts through improvements to habitat quality and conservation outcomes for the Murray Cod and Silver Perch, along with releases of environmental water as dam levels recover.

Offset measures will include direct habitat improvements, like putting snags back in the river, and recovery measures, like installing pump screens to reduce the loss of native fish eggs and larvae from the river.

The new pipeline will enable water to be delivered directly from Tamworth’s main supply at Chaffey Dam through a connection with the existing Dungowan water pipeline and on to the water treatment plant.

Town water will be delivered more efficiently than the current approach of flows down the Peel River which results in transmission losses. Up to half of the water released from Chaffey Dam would be lost in transmission before reaching Tamworth.

Without the pipeline and with no new inflows, the Peel River was expected to cease to flow in early 2021.

In addition to the approval under national environment law, a separate state authorisation for the pipeline involves a number of measures to protect the environment. These measures include a biodiversity management plan with provision for fish rescues and relocation to refuge pools and off-stream holding facilities.

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