Locals split on decision to not raise Warragamba Dam wall

Warragamba Dam has been the subject of much political discussion in recent times.
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A much-debated plan to raise the Warragamba Dam wall has been scrapped by the NSW Government but protecting low lying areas from future flood events is still front of mind for many.

The Minns Labor Government has decided not to proceed with plans to raise the wall by 14 metres due to concerns about the cost, heritage and the environment.

“We went into the election saying any unfunded commitments of the previous government would be reviewed and this was unfunded, and we’ve always raised concerns about the effectiveness of it,” Penrith MP Karen McKeown said.

“There were too many questions which were not answered, and First Nations heritage areas were at risk and to lose the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area listing would just be catastrophic for our area.

“We can now look at options for each location with a flood levee planned for Peachtree Creek and further down towards the Hawkesbury in consultation with effected parties and experts.”

Former Penrith MP Stuart Ayres was among those behind the push to raise the wall.

Long-time Warragamba campaigner Harry Burkitt said it is now time for Labor to implement its promised flood mitigation measures.

“We are very pleased with the announcement that they won’t be proceeding, although we do await the Development Application to be formally withdrawn by WaterNSW,” he said.

“We welcome Labor’s pre-election promise of $225 million to put towards flood mitigation measures in the valley because we need to stop development, put evacuation roads in place and look at levees and managing the existing dam to mitigate floods.”

Indigenous local Kazan Brown is also happy with the outcome after working with others to stop the potential destruction of her Gundungurra heritage in the valley and does not think the proposal would help local areas that experience flooding, despite what the previous government claimed.

“Over 1200 Indigenous sites would have been destroyed had it gone ahead,” Brown told the Weekender.

“The dam runs into the Nepean below Wallacia and the flooding at Wallacia comes from Camden, so the water from the dam makes very little difference to Wallacia anyway.”

Aaron Batten from Llandilo agreed that other measures are needed to assist with localised flooding.

“We are flooded by South Creek which has seen an increase of storm water channelling by many local councils without any sort of improvement to the creek itself,” Batten told the Weekender.

“These systems need to be widened, made deeper or whatever works are required to allow for increased water flow caused by the increase in storm water deviation into them or by water released from the dam.”

However, Londonderry resident Antony Crowe disagrees with the decision after having his home flooded three times.

“I don’t understand the economic reasoning behind not building the dam wall higher. Surely it costs more economically, socially, and environmentally to not build it,” Crowe said.

“Environmentally it makes no sense to me either. We flood an area that’s uninhabited or we flood an area where people live.”

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