Council reaffirms opposition to raising Warragamba Dam wall as NSW government invites comment on reports

Wollondilly Council

Wollondilly Council is once again stating its strong opposition to the raising of the Warragamba Dam Wall, as it hurriedly responds to the NSW government reports that are on exhibition for a short time before Christmas.

Council is also encouraging community members and organisations to have their say on the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) Preferred Infrastructure Report and Response to Submissions before 12 December 2022.

Council’s 2021 submission to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is included in the exhibited documents; however, it appears that the government hasn’t conceded any of the points made by Council.

Mayor Matt Gould said, “There’s very little time to read all the detail in the reports currently on exhibition, let alone prepare a response, which makes it very challenging for anyone to provide meaningful feedback.”

“It seems our concerns are repeatedly dismissed by the NSW government, despite the fact that the area that would be inundated as a consequence of the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall is almost entirely located within the Wollondilly Local Government Area.”

“We have consistently stated our strong opposition to the raising of the wall by up to 17 metres, due to the expected loss of irreplaceable Aboriginal cultural heritage, the effects on biodiversity, heavy vehicle movements throughout much of the Shire and overall concerns about the impact on the Warragamba community and the management of such a large project.”

“I don’t believe that raising the dam wall would achieve the flood mitigation outcomes that are being touted, however this proposal would cause irreversible damage to the area’s unique indigenous heritage and native species, as well as impact the Blue Mountains World Heritage Status.”

“The government’s own modelling shows that more than 50% of flood waters can come from the Upper Nepean and catchments that are effectively downstream from the proposed wall.”

Mayor Gould said that more needed to be done to manage and mitigate flooding along the Hawkesbury-Nepean, but there are faster and better options than raising Warragamba Dam that have not been properly considered.

“We should start releasing water from Warragamba when we know heavy rainfall is coming to create more of an air gap. We could also lower the drinking water storage of Warragamba to create an additional permanent air gap and offset this through greater use of the desalination plant that we are already paying for and that is currently not being utilised.”

“This would allow us to redirect the billions of dollars that raising the dam wall would cost into flood evacuation routes and road infrastructure that is desperately needed for at-risk communities across Greater Western Sydney and which would also improve transport links on a day to day basis.”

“Raising Warragamba Dam is not in the interests of Western Sydney, potentially costing over $2 billion and enabling developers to cover rural floodplains with housing, as well as the possibility of creating a sense of complacency from those still at risk of catastrophic flooding.”

Community members can submit their feedback to the Department here.

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