Blair puts raising Wyangala Dam wall firmly on the table

Wyangala Dam - wall may be raised.
Wyangala Dam - wall may be raised.

Wyangala Dam wall may be raised by 10 metres to give greater water security for residents and farmers along the Lachlan River. 

The NSW Government has announced that the raising of the Wyangala dam wall is a key recommendation of a recent study into Lachlan water uses.

The NSW Government will now consider the study’s recommendations before making a decision regarding the funding for engineering studies and statutory environmental approvals to inform a final business case. 

Lachlan Valley Water executive officer Mary Ewing welcomed the plan, but said any such project must go through a cost and value analysis and there had to be widespread consultation at a local and irrigator level.

“We are glad they may fund a feasibility study and obviously we want to make it clear that community involvement is going to be very important,” Ms Ewing said.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Water, Niall Blair said “drought security and flood management have been dual challenges for the Lachlan Valley and this potential infrastructure plan will alleviate those issues and deliver a much better system for the community”.

“The study, completed in two phases, examined raising the wall at Wyangala Dam by 10 metres against constructing a new dam near Cranky Rock on the Belubula River,” Mr Blair said.

“Raising the wall was found to be the superior option in terms of cost, flood mitigation, hydrological modelling benefits, construction risk and environmental sustainability.

“It will increase the capacity to hold water in periods of surplus and deliver controlled release when water is needed. Crucially, it provides increased capability to manage flood events.

“Currently, the water delivery system in the Lachlan Valley lacks the capacity and capability to mitigate in periods of drought and flood and the reliability of water availability is well below acceptable standards - this plan will resolve that.”

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said in the space of two years, the Lachlan Valley has endured significant flooding in 2016 and is now going through severe drought.

“The inability of the water system to mitigate these events is having adverse economic, social, and environmental impacts for the region’s water dependent agricultural and mining industries,” Ms Cooke said.

“These industries contribute heavily to the economies of our local communities and one cannot survive without the other.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW, Rick Colless said the community also needs long-term solutions and this is one option for ensuring water security in the region. 

“We want to make sure that the recommendation taken forward considers NSW taxpayers and is future-proofing communities in the Lachlan Valley region,” Mr Colless said.

“Water security is the most critical issue facing our regional communities and we are doing the necessary work to make sure future generations don’t have to fear loss of water.”

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