Environmentalists welcome Hawkesbury Council’s decision not to renew support for Warragamba Dam wall raising

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness has welcomed Hawkesbury Council’s decision not to renew its support for the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall.

Warragamba Dam in 2015. The state government is creating a business case to raise the walls of the dam by 14-metres. Picture: Brendan Esposito

Warragamba Dam in 2015. The state government is creating a business case to raise the walls of the dam by 14-metres. Picture: Brendan Esposito

At the council’s April 10 meeting, Liberal councillors attempted to get a motion of support through for the state government’s 14-metre dam wall raising proposal.   

In 1996, the council had voted to support raising the wall.

"What council in their right mind would support housing an additional 130,000 residences on a floodplain as planned by Infrastructure NSW?" said Colong Foundation spokesman Harry Burkitt.

“Of course the council should support better flood management, but they should not be frog-marched into a corner by dangerous developer interests set on covering the floodplain with housing.

"People in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley aren't stupid. They realise sacrificing a declared World Heritage Area and kilometres of wild rivers for developer interests doesn't stack up.”

At the meeting the mayor, Mary Lyons-Buckett, was pressed for her position and even called on to resign from a council committee she is on during the debate.

The mayor chairs the council’s Flood Risk Advisory Committee.

Liberal councillor Nathan Zamprogno said the committee endorsed the dam wall raising project, but Cr Lyons-Buckett was going against that position by not supporting his motion.

Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett. Picture: Geoff Jones

Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett. Picture: Geoff Jones

However, Cr Lyons-Buckett said the committee supported the state government’s Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities project, one part of which is the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall by 14-metres as a flood mitigation measure.

The dam raising project has been estimated to cost $690 million. The state government is creating a business case for the project, which it hopes to complete in 2020.

Nathan Zamprogno. Picture: Supplied

Nathan Zamprogno. Picture: Supplied

Cr Lyons-Buckett said it was quite clear the position of the committee was to support the Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities project, not merely the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall.

She said she wanted to see the other aspects of that project delivered, including better flood evacuation routes and education of the community about the dangers of flooding.

“The dam wall is one part of it, so why would we just support that one part,” she said.

Gundungurra woman Taylor Clarke from Warragamba said she was pleased the council had not renewed its support for the dam wall raising, but was still waiting for a commitment by the NSW government to not flood her people’s last remaining cultural sites in the Burragorang Valley.

“Despite the fact no thorough feasibility study has been undertaken by government, Infrastructure NSW keep saying to traditional owners that raising the dam wall is a foregone conclusion, and that fighting it is pointless,” she said.

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