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Wall elevation Warragamba Dam now ‘critical’

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The over $1 billion proposal to raise the wall of the Warragamba Dam by 14 meters has been declared key state infrastructure essential to NSW for economic and social reasons.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet announced the decision on Wednesday to move forward with the project as NSW again faced widespread flooding, with predicted rainfall for a month over the next few days leading to saturated watersheds.

“Today is a milestone day, a milestone day for a project that has been talked about for decades,” he told reporters.

Raising the dam wall would save lives, save property and future-proof western Sydney against flood risks, the prime minister said.

“My first priority as Prime Minister is to protect NSW communities and we know from UKTN flood survey that the best way to protect communities downstream is to lift the wall,” he said.

Raising the wall was the most effective long-term flood mitigation strategy to help protect residents of the Hawkesbury-Nepean, which had been hit hard by flooding, he said.

“We are committed to continuing this important project to ensure residents have real flood protection in the future.”

Water Minister Kevin Anderson said the dam’s importance was highlighted in the recently released Greater Sydney Water Strategy, which highlighted the significant risks and costs of alternative proposals, such as Labour’s plan to cut supply levels.

“In a flood comparable to the worst ever in the valley, the number of homes affected would triple from 15,500 to 5,000, while 14,000 people would have to be evacuated instead of 90,000,” he said.

The cost of damage would also be reduced by up to $8 billion, Mr Anderson said.

Labor’s plan to cut Warragamba’s water supply level by 12 meters would lead to severe water restrictions for Sydney residents and higher water bills, he said.

Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said the CSSI statement would not affect the rigorous assessment and inquiry of stakeholders that the proposal would have to undergo.

“The proposal has already been subject to an 82-day public exhibition, which gave stakeholders the opportunity to provide their feedback,” he said.

The recent flood study confirmed that raising the wall was the most effective solution to prevent flooding.

“This proposal will not hurt us during droughts, but will protect us during floods, balancing the natural extremes that are increasingly occurring,” he said.

WaterNSW would respond to the feedback and issues raised in the submissions and the Preferred Infrastructure report before conducting a comprehensive assessment in accordance with the Land Use Planning and Assessment Act.

– MONKEY

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