Council's 30-year Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategy and Secure Yield Model is seen as a necessary blueprint for increasing storage capacity at Malpas Dam, and any other major water security options.
Council secured valuable state government funding to help complete the strategy, estimated to cost about $180,000, that will underpin further grant applications for detailed planning, design and construction works to improve the region's water security.
Armidale Regional Council Chief Executive Officer Susan Law said the Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, also helped secure NSW Government financial assistance for a review of the IWCM, to address any gaps in the strategy.
Mrs Law said it was fair to say council had reached a milestone.
"The process of State Government to invest in major infrastructure, like the upgrade of a dam wall, is understandably detailed and requires those seeking funding to go through some pretty extensive steps," Mrs Law said.
"This is the first stage of an extensive process to develop detailed design plans that may lead to a construction contract - subject to regulatory and environmental approvals from the NSW Government.
"Our first significant step is, of course, that we've got agreement from the state department ... and we expect the strategy to be finished by about mid-year." she said.
Mrs Law said the process began last year, with council inviting tenders from specialised dam consultants to help produce concept plans for an increase in storage capacity at Malpas Dam.
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"The strategy will ensure any proposed capital works projects stand up to cost-benefit analysis and provide affordable town water services for our residents and businesses over the long term.
"Having the IWCM should ultimately help to streamline subsequent future steps to secure approvals and funding, including approval under Section 60 of the Local Government Act."
The Act requires local water utilities to obtain Ministerial approval for the construction or any significant modifications of dams and flood retention basins which could cause a significant threat to public safety if there was a failure in that infrastructure.
Section 60 approvals provide an independent review of the proposed works to ensure they are fit for purpose and provide robust, safe and cost-effective solutions, while meeting environmental and regulatory requirements.
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