Barnaby wants new Upper Hunter dam because 'water is wealth'

Barnaby Joyce says the proposed 450 gigalitre Camerons Dam would help secure the region's water supply

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Barnaby Joyce has leant critical federal government support to the push to build a new Upper Hunter dam.

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Barnaby Joyce has leant critical federal government support to the push to build a new 450 gigalitre Upper Hunter dam.

"Water is wealth, we need to capture that wealth so that everyone downstream, whether they need it for stock water, industry or town water, can share in it," the former deputy prime minister said.

"The most effective way to secure that wealth is in a dam."

Mr Joyce's, whose New England electorate takes in the proposed Camerons Dam site between Scone and Murrurundi, said he fully supported his state and National Party colleague Michael Johnsen's lobbying efforts to build the dam as a means of drought-proofing the Upper Hunter.

Michael Johnsen

Michael Johnsen

He urged the Upper Hunter Shire Council and state government to support the project, which is estimated would cost almost $900 million to build.

"I fought for years to get funding for the Dungowan Dam (near Tamworth). It was a long, hard slog but we got there," he said.

"The biggest problem is often the water bureaucrats who think it is their job to keep coming up with reasons not to build a dam."

The proposed dam would be built on the drought-stricken Pages River near the 1335 hectare Camerons Gorge Nature Reserve.

The Newcastle Herald reported on Monday that Mr Johnsen had pitched the project to water minister Melinda Pavey.

Build it: Barnaby Joyce supports push to build Camerons Dam Photo: Gareth Gardner

Build it: Barnaby Joyce supports push to build Camerons Dam Photo: Gareth Gardner

In a statement issued following Mr Joyce's comments, Ms Pavey said: "Member for Upper Hunter has quite rightly highlighted this project as a priority from the WaterNSW future infrastructure report."

"We are focused on increasing water security across the state, including the Hunter."

"We welcome the support from the federal government for this project."

If it goes ahead it would be the first dam built in the region since the construction of Glennies Greek Dam in the early 1980s.

"A dam that gets built today is not going to help during this drought but we will be thanked by future generations for securing their water supply," Mr Joyce said.

Build it: Barnaby Joyce supports push to build Camerons Dam Photo: Gareth Gardner

Build it: Barnaby Joyce supports push to build Camerons Dam Photo: Gareth Gardner

Upper Hunter Chamber of Commerce president Mike Kelly said achieving long-term water security was essential to the growth of the region.

"It's staggering that this this problem has been left so long without anyone addressing it," he said.

"Our region is home to some very water and power intensive industries and we need to ensure that we have the infrastructure that can support them."

"We also need to invest to ensure that we can accommodate population growth and the economic growth that will follow."

Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood told the Newcastle Herald that the council would welcome any new investment to improve water security.

"We would certainly be keen to participate in a conversation about water storages if that's what they are planning," he said

The state government recently indicated it was willing to fast-track some planning processes in order to get critical water infrastructure built.

The story Barnaby wants new Upper Hunter dam because 'water is wealth' first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

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