Wyangala dam. Image courtesy of WaterNSW

In a recent announcement by the Minister for Water, Rose Jackson, the New South Wales (NSW) Government in Australia has decided to abandon the Wyangala Dam Wall Raising Project, citing exorbitant construction costs and potential severe environmental consequences as the primary reasons for the cancellation.

The ambitious plan to raise the Wyangala Dam wall has been put to rest following extensive reviews. Both the project's final business case and an independent evaluation by Infrastructure NSW have recommended against proceeding due to financial and environmental challenges.

Minister Rose Jackson explained that in-depth investigations have revealed that while technically feasible, raising the dam wall by 10m could result in significant and irreversible environmental impacts. Hydrological modeling further indicated that the addition of a 5-meter flood mitigation zone would likely harm the internationally significant downstream environment, leading to substantial costs for biodiversity offset measures.

Another substantial hurdle was the enormous cost associated with constructing the dam wall. Minister Jackson emphasized the government's commitment to using taxpayer funds efficiently, stating that the capital costs of the project outweighed the anticipated benefits.

" While Wyangala is not viable, I recognise the challenges of water security, reliability and flood mitigation for Lachlan communities do not go away. We know there’s a drought knocking on our door threatening the water security of towns across NSW which is why we are reviewing our strategies as a priority,," Minister Jackson remarked. 

Minister Jackson also criticized the previous government for dedicating resources to business cases rather than tangible drought preparedness efforts. She highlighted the NSW Government's new approach, which aims to adopt a comprehensive strategy to safeguard against uncertainties and address the diverse needs of the environment, communities, and farmers.

To involve the public in the decision-making process, the NSW Government plans to seek feedback on its proposed actions through the draft Lachlan Regional Water Strategy. This strategy will be open for public exhibition before the end of September, allowing citizens to express their concerns and suggestions related to water security.

The Minister underscored the government's commitment to making evidence-based decisions, using state-of-the-art climate modeling to shape the future of water management in the Lachlan region.

"We want to support economic growth and balance different water needs, ensuring there’s the right amount of water for the right purpose at the right time," she concluded. " I encourage everyone across the Lachlan region to provide their input when the draft strategy goes on exhibition, because feedback from councils, industry and the community will play a vital role in helping us determine the best way forward."