Submissions deadline extended for Warragamba Dam wall-raising EIS

Warragamba Dam wall. Picture: Chris Lane
Warragamba Dam wall. Picture: Chris Lane

The NSW Government has extended the public submission period for its Warragamba Dam wall-raising project Environmental Impact Statement.

The EIS was released for public scrutiny on September 29, with an original submissions deadline of November 12.

However - after much criticism of the document, which is thousands of pages long - the government will now give residents until November 29 to submit their feedback.

A notice of the exhibition period being extended by 17 days was printed in this week's Wollondilly Advertiser.

The government proposes to raise the height of the wall at Warragamba Dam in an effort to protect communities who live in the floodplain downstream from inundation during heavy rain weather events.

Since its inception, the project has drawn criticism and concern from Indigenous residents, scientists, environmental action groups, National Parks, politicians and even UNESCO.

Issues and criticisms include the threat to native ecological communities, including flora and fauna, which would likely be rendered extinct by inundation upstream; the loss of significant Indigenous cultural heritage sites in the Blue Mountains which would be flooded; insufficient assessment of upstream areas in the EIS; and even misrepresentation of figures in the EIS.

Wollondilly Council has also publicly stated its firm opposition to the plan.

After the office of Western Sydney minister and wall-raising project overseer Stuart Ayres failed to respond to Advertiser questions prior to deadline this month, a NSW Government spokeswoman said the project addressed "a very real existing risk to the 140,000 people who currently live or work on the Hawkesbury-Nepean floodplain".

"There is no plan to reduce the flood planning controls in place in the valley," the spokeswoman said.

"If a flood similar to the worst on record happened today the impacts would be catastrophic. In such a flood, the Warragamba Dam raising would help save lives, reduce the number of people needing to evacuate by around 45,000, and the number of homes impacted by more than 10,000.

"All feasible options to mitigate floods have been assessed and reassessed over the last six years - most recently to inform the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposal."

The spokeswoman said raising the wall to hold back floodwaters "remains the most effective option to reduce the substantial existing risk to lives, homes and livelihoods" downstream.

She said the EIS was created with expert research, modelling and analysis.

"I encourage people to review the detailed information available and assess the proposal on its merits," she said.

"Importantly, the final decision on the dam raising proposal will only be made after all environmental, cultural, financial and planning assessments are complete."

Submissions can be made at the Major Projects website, where all the documents can also be viewed.

Residents may choose to make a submissions via mail, and can do so at the following address:

Warragamba Dam Assessment Team

Planning and Assessment

Department of Planning Industry and Environment

Locked Bag 5022, PARRAMATTA NSW 2124

This story Submissions deadline extended for Warragamba Dam wall-raising EIS first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.