The New South Wales Government has announced that it will not be going ahead with the Wyangala Dam Wall Raising Project, due to the severe predicted environmental impacts and the billions of dollars in projected construction costs.
New South Wales Minister for Water, Rose Jackson, said both the project’s Final Business Case and an extensive independent review by Infrastructure NSW have recommended not raising the dam wall because it doesn’t stack up financially or environmentally.
“Robust investigations show that while raising the wall by 10m is technically feasible, it could cause substantial and irreversible environmental impacts,” Ms Jackson said.
“Hydrological modelling also found raising the wall, with a 5m flood mitigation zone, was also likely to have devastating impacts on the internationally significant downstream environment, resulting in excessive biodiversity offset costs.
“The other major issue is the billions of dollars spent to build the dam wall. We have a responsibility to taxpayers to only fund infrastructure projects that provide maximum bang for the buck and, in this case, the capital costs are too high, and the benefits are too low.
“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 New South Wales, which is why we are reviewing our strategies as a priority.
“The New South Wales Government is now taking action because we know the region needs a multi-faceted approach to protect against uncertainties and balance the competing needs of our environment, towns, and farmers.”
The New South Wales Government will be seeking feedback on how it plans to address these issues in the draft Lachlan Regional Water Strategy, which will go on public exhibition before the end of September.
It will allow people to have their say on water security and will put forward a shortlist of proposed actions to help support local communities, so they’re in the strongest position to manage a more variable climate over the coming decades.
Ms Jackson said the decisions made about the future of water in the Lachlan region will be based on evidence and state-of-the-art climate modelling.
“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 said.
“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.”
Featured image: Wyangala Dam. Image credit: New South Wales Government.