Meeting Calls For Advisory Committee

Annette Madjarian

A working advisory committee to deal with the current floods disaster is likely to be formed following a meeting of Hawkesbury residents, business owners, politicians past and present, and industry experts on Friday 22 July at Windsor.

More than 70 people attended the urgent meeting where it was agreed that a “release plan” was necessary and that it be “legislated” immediately.

Hawkesbury City Councillor Eddie Dogramaci, who lives in Pitt Town, told the meeting that the Development Application (DA) process was too slow for residents who needed to repair their properties and that this needed to be expedited.

“Are we waiting for people to drown so that something will happen to save the farms, save families, their stock,” Councillor Dogramaci told The Galston, Glenorie & Hills Rural Community News.

Councillor Dogramaci said that during the meeting he received a brief email from Hawkesbury Council General Manager Elizabeth Richardson advising of “some progress and promise”. He said he would request a meeting with Ms Richardson and advise a working committee be formed to deal with ongoing flood issues in the area.

Hawkesbury resident and farmer Howard Crawford, a key speaker at the meeting, said the contentious issue of raising the Warragamba Dam wall was also discussed.

The Mayors of both Hawkesbury and the Hills Councils recently called for the Warragamba Dam wall to be raised as a matter of urgency for residents “living in a never-ending nightmare”.

The NSW Government is considering raising the wall by 14 metres, which Hills Mayor Peter Gangemi said “could reduce flood levels by up to 3.5 metres in the Hawkesbury River and that is the action that the residents along the River have been asking for”.

However, attendees of the meeting at Windsor heard that raising the dam wall was “not a totally sensible option unless there is a release plan in place as well”. There were fears that the base of the dam “may be inadequate to withstand the extra stress of the Newton forces that would come into effect”.

Howard Crawford explained that Warragamba Dam “contains about 2037 gigalitres (a bit over four Sydney Harbours). He said during the floods, some 350 to 500 gigalitres poured over the dam per day and questioned whether adding another 1,000 gigalitres would be sufficient mitigation.

“The overall consensus was we need an Early Release of Water legislated asap so the bureaucrats stop holding water back when they know a severe storm front is coming and then releasing it during the storm. We have satellite tracking today, yet policy is stuck in the 1800 and early 1900s,” Mr Crawford said.

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