The NSW parliament has passed a temporary bill fast-tracking water infrastructure projects - including dams and pipelines - in towns with a critical water need.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro says the bill will provide streamlined approvals for projects in relevant towns for the next two years.
Developments set to be fast-tracked by up to nine months include the Burrendong Dam deep water storage project and the Chaffey Dam to Dungowan pipeline, the state government says.
“This is the breakthrough our regional towns and cities have been waiting for,” Mr Barilaro said in a statement on Thursday.
“Improving water storage is critical to the longevity and growth of regional NSW and this temporary legislation allows us to get on with the job of building dams.”
The Burrendong project will provide access to an extra 21 gigalitres of water for Dubbo, Wellington, Warren, Nyngan and Cobar, while the Chaffey Dam to Dungowan pipeline will reduce evaporation and transfer losses in Tamworth’s water supply.
A Wyangala Dam upgrade, the new Dungowan Dam, a proposed Mole River dam and the Western Weirs Program for regulating water flows will also be assessed as critical state significant developments.
Labor supported the bill but opposition water spokesman Clayton Barr said the coalition rushed the legislation through “because they’ve failed to build a single new dam in NSW for almost a decade”.
“It’s a shame that it’s come to this,” he said in a statement.