Wollondilly Councillors Oppose Warragamba Dam Wall Raising

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At last month’s Council meeting, Councillors voted to support a Notice of Motion (NOM) opposing the State Government’s plan to raise the Warragamba Dam Wall for flood mitigation.

Council agreed to write to the NSW Premier condemning the recent amendment to the National Parks and Wildlife Act to allow the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains National Park to be flooded with the raising of Warragamba Dam.

At the November meeting, Councillors will consider allocating funds to a public education campaign about the potential impact of raising the dam wall on the Burragorang Valley. The NSW Labor Opposition and neighbouring councils will be asked to support this campaign.

Mayor Judith Hannan said, “Although we understand the need for a flood strategy for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley and recognise the motivation to protect the people and properties in this area, we do not support a solution that floods the Burragorang Valley.”

“We need to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage as well as the natural environment, plant and animal species. Once we have damaged this heritage it can’t be replaced.”

“When Warragamba Dam spills now, areas upstream of the dam are inundated. With the raising of the dam by around 14 metres this flooding will last for longer periods of time and will extend over a much greater area,” she said.

In May 2017, the NSW Government released Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities – the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy, providing a long-term framework to manage flood risk in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.

According to the Infrastructure NSW website, other options such as river diversion channels, dredging the Hawkesbury-Nepean River or voluntary house re-purchase in flood risk areas have been considered.

The website states that the flood strategy has concluded that “raising Warragamba Dam by around 14 metres is the best infrastructure option to reduce flood risk from floodwaters from the Warragamba River catchment.”

It states, “Over 25,000 residential properties and two million square metres of commercial space are currently subject to flood risk. Preventing future development in the areas will not address the risk to existing properties.”
Councillors are concerned that the dam raising will allow for much more development at the cost of the natural environment.

WaterNSW, as the owner and operator of Warragamba Dam, has commenced consultation on the proposal and will undertake an environmental assessment and detailed concept design.

Wollondilly Council has made a submission concerning the impact on Aboriginal heritage in the Burragorang Valley that would be caused by flooding.

^ Warragamba Dam | Image: www.waternsw.com.au

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