Hawkesbury Council defeats motion to ‘renew’ support for Warragamba Dam wall raising

Warragamba Dam in 2015. The state government is creating a business case to raise the walls of the dam by 14-metres. Picture: Brendan Esposito
Warragamba Dam in 2015. The state government is creating a business case to raise the walls of the dam by 14-metres. Picture: Brendan Esposito

HAWKESBURY Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett believes Hawkesbury Council does not need to take a strong position on the Warragamba Dam raising project at the moment.

At the April 10 Council meeting, councillors debated a Notice of Motion (NoM) about whether to ‘renew’ support for the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall. In 1996, Council voted to support raising the wall.

The Mayor was pressed for her position by the Liberal Party, and was even called to resign from a Council committee she is on during the debate.

The Mayor is the chair of Council’s Flood Risk Advisory Committee.

Liberal councillor Nathan Zamprogno, who moved the Notice of Motion, said Cr Lyons-Buckett should not continue to chair that committee.

Cr Zamprogno said the committee endorsed the dam wall raising project, but Cr Lyons-Buckett was going against that position by not supporting his NoM.

Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett. Picture: Geoff Jones

Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett. Picture: Geoff Jones

However, Cr Lyons-Buckett said the committee supported the state government’s Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities project, one part of which is the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall by 14-metres as a flood mitigation measure.

The dam raising project has been estimated to cost $690 million. The state government is creating a business case for the project, which it hopes to complete in 2020.

The position of the committee is as follows: “To assist the Council is advocating, consideration of, and implementing the strategies contained within the Hawkesbury Nepean Floodplain Review Taskforce report, ‘Resilient Valley, Resillient Communities’ in partnership with relevant state agencies and stakeholders.”

Nathan Zamprogno. Picture: Supplied

Nathan Zamprogno. Picture: Supplied

After the meeting, Cr Zamprogno doubled down on his stance that the Mayor should resign from the committee.

“You can’t chair a committee bound by its terms of reference to advocate for a particular outcome, and then vote against that outcome in the Council chamber,” he said in a prepared statement.

“It’s totally inconsistent. If she cannot support the committee’s objectives, she should resign from it.”

Cr Lyons-Buckett told the Gazette after the meeting she had no intention of resigning, and that Cr Zamprogno had his facts mixed up.

She said it was quite clear the position of the committee was to support the Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities project, not merely the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall.

She said she wanted to see the other aspects of that project delivered, including better flood evacuation routes and education of the community about the dangers of flooding.

“The dam wall is one part of it, so why would we just support that one part,” she said.