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Hawkesbury Mayor Sarah McMahon Statement On Warragamba Dam

Hawkesbury City Council Mayor Sarah McMahon is speaking out about the NSW Government’s decision not to raise the wall of Warragamba Dam, despite the extensive flood damage experienced by the Hawkesbury community over several floods since 2020.

“It is an outrage. Now that the State Government has confirmed they will not raise the Warragamba Dam wall, they must come and meet with us here face to face to tell us what they plan on doing to mitigate the effects of future floods in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley,” Mayor McMahon said.

A Mayoral Minute was passed at Council’s Meeting on Tuesday night, requesting that the NSW Premier come to the Hawkesbury to discuss this significant infrastructure project, along with other outstanding flood related issues.

“I am asking the NSW Premier to visit the Hawkesbury personally and tell us that in absence of raising the dam wall, what are his plans to lessen the impact of the devastating floods that our community will no doubt face again,” Mayor McMahon said.

“The priority for the State Government should not just be about protecting what’s upstream of Warragamba Dam, but crucially, protecting the environment, people, animals and property, that are downstream. Without any plan, our community faces neglect by this government, despite their significant duty of care to assist us.

“The Premier’s current proposal, of investing in levy banks and evacuation routes alone, is not the golden ticket. The NSW Government remains silent on what they will do to protect our vulnerable community, which equates to simply abandoning us, despite comprehensively knowing about how disastrous the recent floods have been in the Hawkesbury, of which many residents have not yet recovered.

“Of even greater concern, is that the new State Government has ignored the figures from Infrastructure NSW, which demonstrate that raising the dam wall would have decreased flood levels by around 3-4 metres in Windsor and reduced the impacts by 70 per cent,” she said.

“Infrastructure NSW has the Hawkesbury identified as one of the highest risk areas for floods in NSW – which of late, we have all seen to be true. The consequences of the State Government’s bad decision here, where they have ignored the experts, are enormous for our community and we need answers right now, not when the next flood hits us.

“Development also keeps happening across Western Sydney, yet in the Hawkesbury, we seem to suffer from the impacts of this development in terms of water runoff, which also adds to the bathtub effect of our unique catchment. Here in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, narrow downstream sandstone gorges between Sackville and Brooklyn create natural choke points. Floodwaters therefore back up and rise rapidly, causing deep and widespread flooding across the floodplain. This acts much like a bathtub with five taps (the major tributaries) turned on, but with only one plug hole to let the water out.

“We have spent years educating our community about this, as well as the dangers and effects of flooding in our Local Government Area. The NSW Government now wants to ignore these dangers and leave our community at significant risk” Mayor McMahon said.

“Perhaps we also need to educate the new NSW Government as well. Premier Chris Minns, I invite you to come to the Hawkesbury immediately, let us show you the damage still evident everywhere in the Hawkesbury and ask that, if you refuse to raise the dam wall, what will you do to mitigate the high flood risk in the Hawkesbury.”

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