Tilbuster seeks Puddledock water to help farm

TILBUSTER Station tended by about 200 disadvantaged youths is in need of support to keep pumpkins and potatoes watered over the summer.

Pathfinders turned to Armidale Dumaresq Council to ask if the group could use water from Puddledock Dam as a security source for its 25 hectares (60 acres) farm.

The farm, run by the organisation, is used to help at risk youths get their hands dirty and learn new skills while feeling the accomplishment of growing veggies.

In a presentation at Monday night’s Council meeting with youth worker Charlie Winter, who has been working with the Tilbuster Project, asked Council if it would let the organisation use the dam water free of charge. 

“It was a dry year and our water bill was huge,” Mr Winter said during his presentation.

“We will be using 20 megalitres per year, which is quite a lot … but it’s a drop in the ocean [for the dam].”

It was Mr Winter’s understanding the dam held a capacity of 17,000 megalitres and the supply from Puddledock was not used as a source of water, with Malpas acting as the town’s water source.

Council is still considering the proposal as it reviews the ways it provides support and sponsorship to community organisations.

It is also reviewing three requests to waiver fees that were before the meeting.

He said if there was good rain it would be unlikely the farm would need to use the water, but it would be necessary if there was another summer such as last year.

The organisation also has plans to develop residential care at the homestead into the future to help accommodate homeless youth.

But Mr Winter said the first priority was to ensure the farm would keep running to get the youngsters growing pumpkins, potatoes and other vegetables.