The NSW Government must act faster to protect the Hawkesbury from future flooding, is the message from the community that Hawkesbury Mayor Sarah McMahon delivered to NSW Water Minister Kevin Anderson.
After eight weeks of requesting an urgent meeting to address the issue of Warragamba Dam water levels, Cr McMahon received the vital meeting with both Mr Anderson and the State Hawkesbury MP, Robyn Preston on Thursday, October 13.
Cr McMahon said she appreciated the meeting, but needed to keep pressing for a solution.
"In this meeting, the NSW Government has committed to talk in person with our community, and I am looking forward to finding out the detail of how this will occur, as soon as possible," she said.
"We deserve a steadfast commitment from the NSW Government that they will invest in crucial short-term measures to help our community build flood resilience.
"Both by lowering water levels in the Dam and ensuring we receive vital funding to improve flood evacuation routes."
Cr McMahon was pleased with Mr Anderson's initial response to her concerns and was hoping the community would hear a new plan to protect the Hawkesbury from the government.
"Just a matter of days ago, we had our sixth flood since 2020," she said. "The Hawkesbury has been crying out for help for years, yet our cries have not yet resulted in enough tangible outcomes to mitigate flood risk
"The Government needs to act immediately, as homes, livelihoods and lives are at risk. Even though this flood was smaller than other recent floods, the anxiety, stress, and fear in the community is palpable.
"We understand that lowering the water level won't stop flooding entirely, but combined with our support for raising the dam wall, it is another important tool that we can use to help our community."
Thursday's meeting followed numerous phone calls, letters and emails to NSW ministers, shadow ministers and local MPs by all Hawkesbury Mayors over the past three years.
This most recently included an August 30, 2022 letter seeking $9 million for upgrades to the Pitt Town Evacuation Route.
That letter was sent to Ms Preston, Metropolitan Roads Minister Natalie Ward, Emergency Services and Resilience Minister Steph Cooke, Roads Shadow Minister John Graham and Emergency Services Shadow Minister Jihad Dib.
Council received limited response and will again be demanding the matter be treated with the urgency it deserves, as Cr McMahon said the community were desperate for answers.
"We fully appreciate that water supply is important for the whole population of Sydney, but we can no longer put the Hawkesbury community at repeated risk," she said. "It is too great a cost on our community - a threat we live with every day that affects us all.
"As I told Mr Anderson and Ms Preston, we will continue to lobby the State Government to lower the water levels in the dam and help improve the resilience of the Hawkesbury community; our people, our farms and our businesses - against flooding.
"Hawkesbury City Council will never stop fighting to protect our residents and properties."
Last week the NSW Government declared the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall by 14 metres was declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure (CSSI).
However funding for the raising of the dam wall is still unclear, as to whether the Federal Government will take part in a 50/50 split of the expected $1.6 billion funding required.