The New South Wales (NSW) government in Australia has declared plans to raise the Warragamba Dam wall by 14m as Critical State Significant Infrastructure (CSSI), stating that it is deemed essential for NSW for economic and social reasons.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the proposal to raise the dam would save lives, save properties and would help future-proof Western Sydney from flood risks.
“First and foremost my number one priority as Premier is protecting NSW communities and we know from the independent flood inquiry that the best way to protect communities downstream is to raise the wall,” Perrottet said. “This declaration reinforces that raising the dam wall is the most effective long-term flood mitigation strategy to help protect residents across the Hawkesbury-Nepean. This region has been hit hard by floods and we are committed to progressing this important project to make sure residents have genuine flood protection into the future.”
Minister for Lands and Water Kevin Anderson added that the importance of the dam was highlighted in the recently released Greater Sydney Water Strategy that showed the significant risks and costs of alternative proposals such as Labor’s plan to lower the supply level.
“In a flood similar to the worst on record in the valley, the number of homes impacted would drop threefold from 15,500 to 5,000, while 14,000 people would need to be evacuated rather than 90,000. The cost of damages would also be reduced by up to $8 billion,” Anderson said. “Labor’s plan to lower Warragamba’s water supply level by 12 metres would have severe consequences such as putting Sydney into severe water restrictions and increasing people’s water bills.”
Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said the CSSI declaration would not impact the rigorous assessment and stakeholder scrutiny the proposal would need to go through.
“The proposal has already been subject to an 82-day public exhibition, which gave stakeholders a chance to provide their feedback,” Roberts said. “The recent flood inquiry confirmed that raising the Warragamba Dam wall is the most effective flood mitigation option available to us. This proposal doesn’t hurt us during drought, but will protect us during floods, balancing the natural extremes that are becoming more frequent.”
WaterNSW will respond to the feedback and issues raised in submissions and its Preferred Infrastructure Report, before a comprehensive assessment is undertaken in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
Located about 65km west of Sydney on the Warragamba River, Warragamba Dam is one of the largest domestic water supply dams in the world.