Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Prime Minister, Don’t Dam World Heritage

“Prime Minister Julia Gillard needs to take a ‘rain check’ before funding a giant dam that would flood 118 kilometres of wild rivers in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.  The environmental assessment of flood management options for the Hawkesbury-Nepean River has already been announced by the NSW Government and the Prime Minister should not pre-empt due process,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said.

“Ms Gillard should have spoken to her Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, who as former NSW Premier rejected a similar proposal for Warragamba Dam because of the threats to the wild rivers and wilderness areas of the southern Blue Mountains.  About 7,500 hectares of sensitive parklands and 300 Aboriginal sites will be inundated by floodwater causing much devastation if Ms Gillard funding proposal goes ahead”, said Mr Muir.

“Prime Minister Gillard has been badly advised, and rushed into making a funding announcement on the run.  There are better options than raising the wall of Warragamba Dam by 23 metres,” Mr Muir said.

“Using the existing dam more effectively would be much cheaper, environmentally sound and could mitigate most floods coming from upstream of the dam.  Operation of the existing dam should be optimised with new flood gates to take advantage of the five metres added to the dam wall in 1989 and our improved understanding of flood behaviour”, said Mr Muir. 

“The Prime Minister also should not have given in to the temptation of promising urban expansion on the flood plain downstream.  This sort of development would put many more people at risk during very large floods that are not stopped by the promised larger dam,” he said.

“Furthermore, increasing the height of Warragamba Dam wall can only mitigate half the floods.  The other half of the floods come from the seven tributaries downstream of Warragamba Dam.  The proposal is an expensive half measure at best that ruins to World Heritage national parks upstream and puts more people at risk of floods downstream”, said Mr Muir.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)