Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024
alert-–-plans-to-raise-wall-on-warragamba-dam-to-protect-more-than-100,000-residents-from-floods-is-praised-by-traditional-owners-after-it-was-scrappedAlert – Plans to raise wall on Warragamba Dam to protect more than 100,000 residents from floods is praised by traditional owners after it was scrapped

Indigenous custodians have praised a decision to scrap plans to raise a dam wall that would’ve protected 140,000 residents from flooding. 

Under a plan approved by the previous Coalition NSW government in 2016 under Mike Baird, the Warragamba Dam wall was to be built up another 14 metres to reduce flood risks in the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley in NSW.

The initial cost was put at $700million but the Parliamentary Budget Office put the estimated bill at about $2bn by March this year. 

If completed the project would have inundated 6,000ha of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, which includes includes artwork, camp, ceremonial and burial areas.

Gundungurra Elder Kazan Brown, who has fought a long campaign to save the area, said the news the project had been cancelled was ‘awesome’ with more than 300 cultural sites saved as a result.

Indigneous owners say cultural sites will be spared because of scrapping a plan to build higher the the Warragamba dam wall

‘The best news I’ve had in eight years,’ Kazan Brown she told Guardian . 

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‘It’s a big weight off our shoulders.’ 

NSW Water Minister Rose Jackson said cancelling the planning application was the fulfilment of Labor’s election promise in March.

‘It’s a box-ticking exercise but it is a box that needed to be ticked,’ she said. 

‘WaterNSW needed to formally say “we are not proceeding with that project”.’

Despite it being touted by three Coalition premiers no money had ever been allocated to the project.

The minister said the Minns Government would look at other options to reduce flooding risk, such as increasing the size of Sydney’s desalination plant to provide more drinking water meaning the dam need not be full to the brim. 

Harry Burkitt, a leader of the Give a Dam campaign that opposed the higher wall, also welcomed the end of the fight and he credited a ‘handful’ of obsessive people for the eventual triumph.

‘Their determination and devotion has today paid off,’ he said

Campaign funder Rob Pallin called the project’s cancellation ‘a great win for the environment’.

He said the flooding would have risked threatened species inside the national park, including the Camden white gum and the regent honeyeater.

The plan to raise the Warragamba dam wall was to mitigate against flooding risk for the NSW Hawkesbury-Nepean valley

The NSW government is considering expanding the desalination plant to allow more leeway with the Warragamba dam level

‘It was more than just the issue of that campaign,’ Pallin said. 

‘It was more about setting a major precedent for allowing those sorts of things to happen in the future.’

However, the battle is not over Kazan Brown who wants Lake Burragorang behind the wall included in the world heritage area to ensure more formal protection for the 334 known cultural heritage sites within the likely flood zone.

‘I don’t think [the threat of a wall-raising] has gone away,’ she said. 

Expanding the world heritage area ‘won’t stop the government … but it’s going to make it harder for them to put the wall up’.

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