ARMIDALE’S historic Dumaresq Dam is slated for demolition next year if improvements are not made to the site’s ageing structure.
The State Government’s Dam Safety Committee has grave concerns about the ability of the century-old dam wall to handle severe weather conditions.
Armidale Dumaresq Council’s (ADC) director of public infrastructure David Steller said an upgrade of the dam would cost the community more than $1 million.
But council’s general manager Shane Burns warned the figure could even be as high as $5 million.
Mr Burns said any improvements made to the dam would incur a substantial rate increase.
“Council has been approached by the State Government who made the assessment that we need to do more work on the dam,” he told The Express.
“We’re currently looking at and costing our options, which we will then bring to the community.
“It’s really going to come down to whether people are willing to put their hands in their pockets to help fund an upgrade.”
Member for the Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay yesterday said he was “very surprised” to hear of the situation.
“I’ve not been approached by council about this matter and any suggestion of demolishing Dumaresq Dam is ridiculous,” he said.“It’s news to me and I know it will shock and anger the community.”
Chairman of the Dumaresq Progress Association Maria Hitchcock said the safety committee was not taking the dam’s history into account.
“We’d be horrified if it was demolished,” she said.“It’s only because of the strength of the dam’s wall and it’s been proven that the old style of building is perfectly safe.”
Despite the claims, ADC’s Mr Steller said they had been working with a consultant in an effort to fix the dam’s “shortcomings”.
“We’re looking at the possibility of lowering the spillway level or strengthening the wall, which would reduce the risk of the dam overturning in really extreme events,” he said.
“The removal of the dam isn’t our preferred option but at this stage it’s going to cost quite a bit of money for improvements.”