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Prime Minister and NSW Premier announce $1b funding for Wyangala, Dungowan dam projects

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 13/10/2019 Glen Moret and Kevin Nguyen

A billion-dollar package to upgrade or build new dams in drought-afflicted NSW regions is expected to put "bulldozers in the ground" next year, the Liberal National Party has said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced a joint investment between the federal and state governments for "priority large-scale water infrastructure projects".

Up to $650 million has been flagged to upgrade the Wyangala Dam in the state's central west and $480 million will go to the new Dungowan Dam near Tamworth.

a body of water with a mountain in the background: The Dungowan project would be the first dam built in NSW in more than 30 years. (ABC News: Caitlin Furlong)

The Dungowan project would be the first dam built in NSW in more than 30 years. (ABC News: Caitlin Furlong)
© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The Wyangala upgrade includes raising the dam wall by 10 metres and Dungowan will be the first new dam in NSW for more than 30 years.

"These projects don't happen overnight but we're working as quickly as possible to get all the necessary work done so we can start digging," Mr Morrison said.

Ms Berejiklian said she was confident construction would begin in 2020 and hoped works would be completed by 2025.

"What was missing in the past, was the funds to accelerate the project," she said.

"For too long it's been talked [about] ... it's not just the funding, it's the political will and when you get a Federal Government backing what you're doing, that gives us the impetus and the momentum to keep pushing forward."

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he was "confident that in the next 12 to 15 months we'll see the bulldozers in the ground".

However, the NSW Opposition said the Government should be focusing on more immediate solutions such as pipelines and bore drilling.

"Talk of dams from this after eight-and-a-half years of not doing anything is a convenient distraction," NSW shadow minister for water Clayton Barr said.

"If you are west of the divide in NSW at the moment your concern isn't about a dam, your concern is about water today and tomorrow."

The NSW town of Guyra, near Armidale, is currently on level-five water restrictions and since June, has been trucking in water after its own supply dried up.

Last week, a $13 million pipeline connected to the nearby Malpas Dam was switched on. Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the project's completion was a welcome relief.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes signalled on Thursday he would be taking charge of dam applications and would declare them critical, "state-significant" infrastructure to be fast-tracked for development.

Mr Stokes said he would personally sign off on applications, bypassing delays brought about by the Independent Planning Commission.

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