The Wollondilly Council has unanimously condemned the New South Wales Government’s plan to raise the Warragamba Dam wall.
- The area that would be flooded is completely located within the Wollondilly LGA
- The Council has unanimously voted to condemn the project with reference to damage to cultural heritage sites along with other concerns
- Some councilors believe there is more to the story than just mitigating flood risk
The government wants to raise the wall by at least 14 meters to reduce the impact of future floods in western Sydney.
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project was released by Water NSW on 29 September.
In an extraordinary meeting on Friday afternoon, councilors rejected the government’s plans for the project.
Councilor Matt Gould said the area would be flooded as a consequence of the proposal because the wall was entirely located within the Wollondilly local area.
“We are really concerned about the impact this will have on the Wollondilly community, the impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage site, many of which are within Wollondilly,” he said.
‘Poorly perceived’ EIS ‘shows contempt’
Cr Gould said the council raised serious questions about the adequacy of the EIS.
“It goes across a number of issues, including the downsizing of environmental protections to enable the project, inadequate and tokenistic original heritage studies,” he said.
“They only spent 25 days doing field studies in the Burragorang Valley – you can’t possibly make an assessment in 25 days.
“Yet in the 25 days they still found 1,500 [culturally significant] sites.
“The impact this would have on the Gundangarra people would be massive.”
Councilor Noel Lowry said the council had a duty to protect the country.
“Wollondilly are the guardians of our heritage from the Gundangarra people and also the flora and fauna of the Burragorang Valley,” he said.
Councilor Matthew Deeth said society would be defined by what it chooses to preserve and protect.
“Would we treat the Kakadu or the Great Barrier Reef with the same respect that the Blue Mountains World Heritage Site showed?” he said.
“By pushing through this poorly perceived EIS and in return the raising of the dam wall without exhausting all other alternatives shows contempt for the Gundangarra people, Wollondilly and all the Australians.”
Response time ‘a joke’
The council also warned of the impact construction could have on local roads, which would estimate that 180 cement trucks a day would pass Warragamba Village and Silverdale if the plan went ahead.
It also warned that tourism and business in the community would be disrupted and destroyed during construction.
Cr Gould said his colleagues also protested against having only 45 days to respond to an EIS that was thousands of pages long and had taken four years to prepare.
“The expectation that the community could read it, understand it, and put in a meaningful submission in 45 days is a joke,” he said.
Cr Gould told the meeting that he believed the project was designed to open up land downstream of the dam for housing development rather than mitigate flood damage.
Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres has been contacted for comment.