Amid stage 4 water crunch, Tamworth demands 40,000 more people

By Leith van Onselen

I reported last week how NSW towns including Dubbo and Tamworth are facing a water emergency within months as drought causes dam levels to plunge:

Towns in western and central New South Wales, including Dubbo, Nyngan, Cobar, Walgett and Tamworth, are facing a crisis in their water supplies within a few months unless it rains, prompting emergency planning by water authorities…

“Since July 2018, inflows to the River Murray System have remained in the driest 7% of records, the head of River Management,” the executive director, Andrew Reynolds, told the board.

In other words, in the 114 years of record-keeping, this result is among the nine or 10 driest years. And it’s getting worse…

With little rainfall and very dry soils, almost no water is reaching the river system, and inland dams are falling. Unless spring rains fall, the Murray Darling basin will be in the grip of a crisis…

Tamworth is currently experiencing Stage 4 water restrictions, with the Chaffey Dam at just 24.5% capacity after losing 15% of capacity since the start of 2019.

Yet despite the plummeting water supply, Tamworth’s authorities are determined to lift the region’s population from 62,000 currently to over 100,000 as quickly as possible:

The local government area grew by just under 1 per cent from 2017 to 2018, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

Tamworth Regional Council has an ambitious plan to shave at least three decades off that.

“We need to increase the growth rate to a bit over 2 per cent,” acting mayor Phil Betts said. “It is an ambitious target but it’s possible…”.

Blind Freddy can see that increasing Tamworth’s population by around 60% would make the region’s water supply problems much worse, especially in light of climate change, which is expected to lower rainfall and increase evaporation.

Not to worry, according to Tamworth Mayor Col Murray. If the people come so too will the water:

While water is a major concern for the city presently, the mayor said a growing city would demand government investment in a greater security.

“I would argue we have got no chance of increasing our water security without having population growth,” [Mayor Col Murray] said.

“That’ll force it to happen.

“I have absolutely got no concerns that there’ll be water for the future, providing we have got the plan and got the population growth to strengthen it.”

Tamworth already has major concerns with water security – hence the severe water restrictions in place. But somehow we are not to worry about the extra demand that would come from 40,000 more people?

Remember, Tamworth is located far away from the ocean, meaning that water desalination is not available. This means that its future water supply will need to come from dams and or ground water, which are already under severe stress.

Water scarcity remains the elephant in the room of the population debate, and the key issue that ‘Big Australia’ boosters deliberately ignore, including Mayor Col Murray.

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  1. At this point, I think we’re going to need water riots before the jeenyuses in charge get the picture.

    Bring on the 40k.

    • I’m starting to think that way myself. Force the issue so that it has to be addressed. Bring in 40000 unassimilable immigrants. To a place with no work and no water. See how the locals react to that. Get a bit of breakdown of social cohesion happening. See how Mayor Fcuknuckle reacts to some race riots in the streets of his little country town.

    • Well I enjoyed my 20 minute shower this morning!! The only thing that could’ve made it better would be high flow tap head from Jacob but I’ll wait until the kickstarter campaign.


      • SaCo – when water costs the same as petrol then the mass immigration ponzi will be broken. I’d be happy enough not to flush the toilet when I pee but then again I grew up in country nsw in the 80s when we had a real drought … the saying back then was ‘if its yellow let it mellow … if its brown flush it down”.

  2. How can someone be so delusional? It’s like its actually a satire performance. This guy needs to be pitch forked, probably more than once.

    • “Not to worry, according to Tamworth Mayor Col Murray. If the people come so too will the water:”
      Maybe they are going to import a different type of Indian.

      • It’s not a new idea (“rain follows the plough”)…here’s a review of On the Margins of the Good Earth:
        Amazon Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars
        A fascinating study of the folly and fortune of 19th century agricultural development
        December 16, 2015
        Format: Paperback
        I must go back many years, to 1979. I was undertaking a post-grad planning course and an assignment involved a bit of history. My forebears had emigrated from Prussia in 1865 and were immediately sent to the district that Don Meinig focused his attention on. I stumbled across Meinig’s book in a tiny bookshop. It is a fascinating read, deeply researched, and wonderfully written.
        What stood out is that it took an American, not an Australian, and definitely not a South Australian, to discover the rich tapestry of the opening up of the wheat frontier in a land so unfamiliar with broadacre farming. The great hopes of a colonial government were taken up by people from all around the world, but despair and ruin crumbled many a life. The stories of these peoples are still etched in the ruins, deserted townships, of towns in an unstoppable decline today, and eery graveyards that permeate the South Australian agricultural landscape. The legacy of drought and triumph still permeates the cropping lands today.
        The feature of Meinig’s research is that he observed something unique at the time; South Australia’s dryland agricultural development was expanding at a frenetic pace, and was pushing the limits of nature. It is why he focused on this region. Nature won.
        For the student of human endeavour treading unfamiliar landscapes, this book is a very worthy read, if only to understand the folly that rides side by side with this great mystery of the human condition.
        And what about my copy of the book? I will never part with it.

        There was a similar story in the US with homesteading in Montana and I think other states.

      • JohnR, fascinating. My ancestors were Prussians, or rather, German-speaking Silesians, who migrated to South Australia in the 1840s. Decades later many of them moved to the Wimmera where farming conditions were (somewhat) easier. I will keep an eye out for that book.

    • DominicMEMBER

      He’s been promised a big payday by a couple of local developers. You know the gig ..

  3. Don’t we need more immigration to build additional water infrastructure and to create demand for water which will result in lots of water investors, thereby making water cheap and plentiful? Nope, sorry, that’s houses I’m thinking of.

  4. For years and years I watched the Sydney transport disaster unfold. Travel times got longer and longer.

    Yet for years and years I was told by all kinds of experts, politicians and gullible media believing voters that the reason was that our population density was too low to support viable public transport.

    I was told that more people would make public transport viable and solve the problem.

    Perhaps the same is true for water?

  5. proofreadersMEMBER

    Meanwhile, down at Government House in Canberra, the adults dream team ministry of ScoMo, who will save us, is being sworn in.

  6. “I have absolutely got no concerns that there’ll be water for the future, providing we have got the plan and got the population growth to strengthen it.”

    Aaaahahahahaha…. well there you go again. “Bring in more people and plan better, and it will all be OK”. I dunno how many times I’ve seen that bullshit in quotes on MB. You don’t actually need to do anything, like build a dam which will take…I dunno…ten years from conception to completion. And which won’t fill with water because there’s no fcuking rain. Just plan better. Because that will magically make water come from your taps.

    It’s like some sort of cargo cult. These fools hoot “We just need to plan better” like a flock of geese, and believe that that’s all that needs to be done.

    While this is a big story, the bigger…the biggest…story is going to be water supply in Sydney. Wait until reserves there reach 25%, or less. Sydney could very well end up like Capetown, with people queueing with jerry cans for their water ration. Not in 2050, but before the next federal election. And when that happens, see how popular the immigrants will be.

    • How will Sydneysiders have time to queue for water? We need to spend 2 hours in traffic to get to work so we can service the $1.5m outstanding on our 1 bedroom units.
      Part of me is relishing the upcoming water crisis, some social uprising is going to really separate the men from the boys. Unfortunately the poor migrants are going to cop it hard.

      • The coastal cities can add desalination plants. However, the substantial cost will come straight off land prices, where cheap, abundant water was previously capitalised. Just another negative deflating the land bubble.


    • Real planning would involve first establishing a sustainable population level given the availability and variability of resources over time, and then working around that to deliver services efficiently.

      • I was thinking that very thing this afternoon.

        I wonder if there is anybody anywhere looking at Sydney’s population numbers, multiplying by litres-per-person-per-day and then graphing that against daily inflows into the Sydney reservoirs? You could then do some super interesting modelling based on projected population numbers and water inflows and what-ifs around weather etc. It would be both illuminating and sphincter clenching stuff.

        In fact, I might do that myself, just for the grim satisfaction of it all.

        As an exercise for the reader, Sydney’s supply is currently at 53% and it’s falling at 0.4% per week. Assuming current climate conditions continue and discounting the effects of desalination plants, how many weeks before the next Federal election will Sydney run out of water? Hoo boy, I’d sure like to see that calculation on page 1 of the SMH.

  7. Hanno Son of Bomilcar

    the last time it rained a lot in dubbo was 2016. heres footage of the aftermath i recorded down at the river:

    tamworth is a nice place, i would hate to see it ruined by the population ponzi. i have no idea what they expect these tens of thousands of migrants to do in towns like it, there’s barely any jobs out here.

    it makes me sad that so many of the coolest things from my childhood are going to be destroyed to make way for more people. in dubbo there is a really awesome abandoned reserve army base from the 1950s that has been overtaken by the wildeness in the middle of town, it’s full of trees and shrubs all growing around these abandoned army bunkers. its one of the most unique and neatest things around in town and everybody likes it, but its been earmarked for demolishment/”development” so we can make way for more crap housing estates for more people.

  8. Have a look at the picture of Cordeaux Dam in this article. As they say, a picture is worth 1024 words…

    In that article, some genius points out that:

    Dam levels were “dropping faster than they have in decades”, a spokesman for Sydney Water said. “Over the last two years dam levels have dropped faster than the average rate during the Millennium Drought.”

    I wonder if that would be because of the extra 1M+ water consumers who’ve been added without any additional supply.

    All the planning and virtue signalling in the world won’t make a tiny bit of difference when there is no water left and things start to turn pear shaped.

    The sorry truth is available at 53.5% and still falling at 0.4% per week.

    They’re introducing restrictions earlier than expected, but as pointed out in the article, most people live according to those restrictions as a matter of course these days, so they’re not going to have much effect, if any.

      • The one they had the day before was 80% get rid of the immigrants. Guess they can’t let the idea snowball.

      • Comments, virtue, BadThink, who said what, hindsight, planning….whatever. None of that matters in the face of too many people and not enough water. I’m an engineer. To me, what matters is calculation because opinions are irrelevant.. I did calculations about water going into tanks and water going out and time-to-empty when I was in high school. The current situation isn’t much different but the stakes are much higher.

        We spent huge amounts of time, effort and money debating and voting on gay marriage. I’m not saying that’s unimportant, but in the great scheme of things I reckon it’s way down the list compared to millions of people running out of water.

        Sorry if this sounds like a rant…I’m not having a go at you, just wondering when the punters are going to lift their heads up from the RE pages and go “What’s gone wrong with my water supply?”

    • DominicMEMBER

      Rant away. I’m 100% on your page. The rank stupidity of this situation has few parallels. History will not be kind to the population pumpers and perhaps, if things get bad enough, many of these clowns will eventually end up feeling the full force of the peoples’ wrath.

    • Dave666MEMBER

      Me too. Both you and I will know that there is no chance in hell that the people of Tamworth will be happy with 40,000 vibrants. The local people are ok with migrants who genuinely accept, and try to fit in with, the local country town culture. However, those who do not try to assimilate are not accepted and will not be tolerated.

      • Quipolly Dam is only now about to get a new water treatment plant and pipes to Werris Creek and Quirindi. That is expected to service a potential doubling of current population in those two towns. So maybe an extra 10k of residents between the two.
        These towns are about a 40min drive from Tamworth.

      • Wow small world LSWCHP. I’m a quirindi boy born and raised, left after high school but still have the olds there and a brother in the big smoke of Tamworth.

    • Good find Swifty. I wonder if acting mayor Betts and mayor Murray have property ripe for development and what there business interests are.

  9. AtaraxianMEMBER

    The Tamworth Regional Council is Nats-dominated, the State MP is a Nat & Barnaby is the Federal MP. Questions are starting to be publicly asked via the local newspaper about the wisdom of the Nats “populate or perish” mantra. As the water crisis deepens it will be interesting to see if it begins to threaten complacent and comfortable incumbents.

  10. Might seem a tad cynical but for Regional NSW it’s not about expanding their population but rather the true aim is to receive grants to build infrastructure which would in theory enable them to expand their population. Real expansion of the local population is a long long way down the wanndo list, actually expanding the population through the import of non-English speaking migrants isn’t anywhere on the list. And than there’s the issue of jobs. What ever you do Don’t go to regional NSW looking for a job and expect a warm welcome from the locals, what good jobs (as in government jobs or any award wage jobs) exist belong to locals…and they’re not scared to let you know how they feel about outsiders taking local jobs.

    • That’s probably about it.
      They know that a water shortage that means they can’t water their gardens for two weeks every five years won’t get them any gov’t money – if they want money for extra water infrastructure they need a water shortage that means the whole town can’t turn on the tap for three months every single year, so they’re going to work towards making that happen.

  11. HadronCollision

    Three things.

    1. Looking at the proximity of the crises to Mel and Syd tells you everything you need to know.
    2. Import people, water will follow sounds like build houses and (1000 years later) train line will come.
    3. It’s times like this I think we really are living in a simulation.