Warragamba dam project criticized for impact on World Heritage


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Environmental activists have said the NSW Australian government’s assessment of the Warragamba Dam wall elevation project is “grossly inadequate”. Climate advocates have called on the government to consider alternative methods such as buying back homes in flood-prone areas, according to the Guardian report.

West Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres reportedly said the long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement (EIA), released on September 29, would provide the community with “a full understanding of what is being proposed” as well as the impacts environmental potentials of elevating the wall up to 17 meters. Meanwhile, according to the report, the general public has 45 days to make submissions in response to the 4,000 pages of documents.

WaterNSW proposed to raise the dam wall to mitigate the risks

Apparently, WaterNSW had proposed raising the dam wall to mitigate the risk to human life and property in the floodplain of the Hawkesbury-Nepean watershed when heavy flooding hits the area. However, the plan is to temporarily hold floodwaters inside the Blue Mountains, which is a World Heritage area. This part of the plan has generated serious backlash against the NSW government for the impacts it would have on endangered species, cultural heritage sites and values ​​in World Heritage areas.

The EIS, in its report, said the project would massively reduce the risk of exposure to flooding for thousands of vulnerable people and their homes. He also added that raising the dam wall would give emergency services more buffer time to prepare assistance and evacuate people safely. EIS also estimated that in the event of a major flooding, at least 300 hectares or 740 acres of the World Heritage area would be affected.

“It is important to note that the upstream impacts of the proposal must be carefully measured against the social, economic and environmental impacts that the flooding may have on communities downstream of western Sydney,” Ayres reportedly said on Wednesday. But, environmental groups, experts and an MP have expressed concerns about the potential effects of the project underestimated at several stages in the 86 documents.

According to the report, Jamie Pittock, professor of environmental policy at Australian National University, said the project’s potential impact on wildlife, including the critically endangered Honeyeater, has only been assessed for part of the potential flood zone.

IMAGE: @ wdillycouncil / Twitter

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