Hunter New England Armidale water security project


Contact point

Picture of Glenn Fernandes
Glenn Fernandes Director Water Resources Management 0421 487 408

NSW Public Works is undertaking the investigation, concept, and detailed design for a major augmentation of the Armidale water supply scheme, which will secure a better water supply for the Armidale region for decades.


Armidale has a population of around 25,000 and sits at the top of the Great Dividing Range. In the recent 2017 – 2019 drought, the town came within 300 days of running out of water in Malpas dam and faced the prospect of having to cart water in on 100 trucks every day. Being located at an altitude of about 980m meant that groundwater yield would be very low.

Council engaged NSW Public Works (NSWPW) to undertake their Strategic Planning for the water supply and sewerage services and finding a solution to the Town’s water security risk was one of the key issues to be addressed. Following the identification of a solution Council then engaged NSWPW to develop the solution to a tender ready stage.

All the engagements were co-funded by DPE Water under the Safe and Secure Water Program (SSWP).

Our role

NSWPW provided technical leadership to co-ordinate a yield assessment, review the water sharing plans to assess alternate catchments from which to source water, identify new storage sites and develop triple bottom line assessment criteria. We obtained concurrence from the regulator and assisted Council to select a preferred option and secure funding from the SSWP to develop the project to tender ready.

NSWPW managed the design phase of three related projects simultaneously. These being the restoration of Oaky River dam, a water transfer system from Oaky River Dam to Armidale water treatment plant, and the raising of Malpas dam.

The project also includes the co-ordination of in-house specialist services like surveying and spatial data acquisition, geological and geotechnical investigations, environmental assessment and planning approvals, and a land matters report to address the complex and high-risk issue of land ownership and acquisition pathways.

Malpas Dam - drone survey

Key project facts

  • Secure the Armidale water supply for the next 30-years and facilitate aspirational economic growth for the region
  • Council acquires the Oaky River Dam through an EOI process
  • Design of Oaky River Dam restoration which failed during a flood event in February 2013
  • Design of a water transfer system including 51 km long pipeline and multiple pumping stations
  • Design of a 6.5m raising of Malpas Dam
  • Associated services including survey (as pictured right), geotechnical, environmental and land matters


A design and tender ready package that brings three individual components into an integrated system for the augmentation of the Armidale water supply scheme was developed as a part of the project outcomes.

NSWPW were able to assist the Council to be successful in an Expression of Interest to acquire Oaky River Dam from Essential Energy.

Overall the project will see the development of a solution which secures the water supply for Armidale Regional Council for the next 30-years and facilitates the aspirational economic and residential growth targets for the region. The solution will also contribute to regional water security in neighbouring Local Government Areas. The project's expected completion is mid 2024.