Dick Smith joins push against Warragamba dam wall raising

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith has called for a stop to an expanding Sydney, while speaking against the raising of the Warragamba dam wall.

“The problem with raising the dam is, when will enough be enough? And I can tell you that for the developers, enough will never be enough - the greed is unlimited,” Mr Smith said.

Warragamba Dam. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Warragamba Dam. Photo: Wolter Peeters

“They’ll want Sydney to go to 10 million, and then 20 million. So one day you have to say let’s live in balance, and this would be a good example of saying let’s stop now. Let’s not raise the dam so that we can have more people in Sydney, let’s actually not have more people in Sydney.”

Mr Smith recently took a helicopter flight with environmentalist Bob Brown over the southern Blue Mountains wilderness that would be flooded by raising the dam wall.

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness has started a campaign to save the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area from a NSW government proposal to raise the dam wall, which would flood up to 65 kilometres of wild rivers and streams within the world heritage area.

Harry Burkitt from the Colong Foundation echoed Mr Smith’s call to protect one of Australia's most iconic natural landscapes from the consequences of urban sprawl, while emphasising the need to ensure effective flood management in existing downstream communities. 

“The prospectus release by Infrastructure NSW on the dam wall raising states that they plan to add over 130,000 people to western Sydney floodplains by 2047 if the dam wall is raised - this is ludicrous,” he said. 

“Are we so desperate to overpopulate Sydney that we now want to build houses on low-lying floodplains? We all saw the end result of this flawed developer-driven agenda on the Brisbane River floodplains back in the 2011 floods.”

He said there were alternative flood management strategies.

“A recent study by the Institute of Sustainable Futures at UTS also identified a range of alternative flood management strategies using Warragamba dam without raising the dam wall.”

The Gundungurra Tribal Council has also spoken against the proposal, as culturally significant places will be inundated if the dam level is raised.

Gundungurra elder Aunty Dawn Harris said:  “When the dam was originally built, the lands Gundungurra people called home were flooded and a great deal of culturally important places which were used by us for thousands of years are now lost under the water-supply for Sydney.”

The Dreamtime story of ‘Gurangatch and Mirragan’, one of the main creation stories for the Gundungurra people, tells of 15 waterholes in the Burragorang and Kedumba valleys which were significant to the story and Gundungurra people. Eleven of the 15 waterholes now sit 60 metres under the surface of Lake Burragorang.

If the dam wall raising goes ahead it will put two of the remaining waterholes at risk of being lost, she said.

There are also two major art sites in the Burragorang Valley also at risk of being washed away.