The Mayors of Hawkesbury City Council and The Hills Shire Council are calling for the Warragamba Dam wall to be raised as a matter of urgency.
The fresh calls come after properties on the Hawkesbury-Nepean floodplain were left impacted yet again by flood waters – some for up to the fourth time in 16 months.
The Mayor of Hawkesbury City Council, Patrick Conolly said that residents were living in a never-ending nightmare.
“Our residents understand that living along the Hawkesbury River poses a risk, but to endure four floods months apart is extremely stressful and heartbreaking,” Mayor Conolly said.
“Residents have told me that they are exhausted and completely over having to go through the clean-up and rebuild time and again.
“It’s time for a decision on flood mitigation – we need the NSW Government to raise Warragamba Dam wall now,” he said.
The current proposal being considered by the NSW Government is to raise the wall by 14 metres to protect communities in Northwest Sydney.
“If we get a flood similar to 1867, it is estimated that raising the wall will save 7,000 homes from being flooded,” Mayor Conolly said.
“It’s time to be better prepared and protected and raising the Dam wall is just sensible and needs to be our priority,” he added.
Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Peter Gangemi said reacting to floods wasn’t enough.
“The communities of Western and Northwest Sydney are very supportive of the Warragamba Dam wall being raised, and I think the two Mayors coming here today [at the Hawkesbury River] is a symbol of that,” Mayor Gangemi said.
“Our residents have been through four major floods in 16 months. They are asking that more be done to protect their homes and businesses and raising the Dam wall is the immediate action they are calling for.
“Every meter that the flood levels go higher, the amount of homes and businesses that get flooded as well as the cost of recovery all go up exponentially.
“Raising the Dam wall 14 metres could reduce flood levels by up to 3.5 metres in the Hawkesbury River and that is the action that the residents along the River have been asking for, and that is why we are here, to advocate for them,” he added.
Warragamba Dam began spilling early on Sunday morning after Sydney received more than a month’s worth of rain in as little as five days.
Both Mayors said it was crucial that the Dam was raised before another flood impacted the region.
“As the region continues to grow, it remains highly vulnerable to the impact of a great Hawkesbury-Nepean flood not seen since the ‘Great Flood’ of 1867. During this catastrophic event, 20 people lost their lives, livestock was swept away in flood waters and many people lost their homes and livelihoods. The same event today would have enormous impact on our region,” Mayor Gangemi said.
“It’s time to address the risk, raise the Dam and educate residents about flood behaviour and what residents should do to protect their property and loved ones,” Mayor Conolly added.
In 2017, the NSW Government released the Hawkesbury-Nepean Flood Risk Management Strategy – ‘Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities’.
Both Hawkesbury and The Hills Shire Councils have supported this Strategy, which recommends raising Warragamba Dam to create a flood mitigation zone of 14 metres.
The current dam and its design provides for drinking water storage only. However, with the prediction of less frequent but more intense rain periods, flood storage is considered crucial to protect Greater Sydney from significant financial, environmental and social loss from flooding.