Thursday, 15 June 2023 11:55

President’s Message: After the deluge… Featured

WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert WSROC

As we approach the first anniversary of the July 2022 floods which devastated so much of Western Sydney there are still flood-affected families unable to return to their homes.

When last year’s floods hit, many Western Sydney residents were still dealing with the aftermath of the March 2021 and March 2022 inundations.

Recovery from the floods is being hampered by slow progress with insurance claims and flood recovery grants, shortages of building materials, and a now chronic lack of skilled trades.

Added to this, councils are struggling with unprecedented repair bills for roads and other infrastructure.Flood damaged raod

Then there is the concerning news from WaterNSW, the authority responsible for operating the state’s river systems and dams, that in extreme and rare flooding scenarios, a geological seam under the Warragamba Dam wall could threaten the dam’s integrity.

It is theorized that under the most extreme scenario, water levels in the lake behind the dam could rise and cause the dam to be overtopped, which could damage the dam wall and gates.

WaterNSW has said while there are no immediate structural concerns with the dam wall and it does not require immediate repairs, comprehensive studies conducted in March this year established that there were “climatic and geotechnical risks” confronting the dam in its current state.

WaterNSW has commenced investigations to determine the necessary measures to address the identified issues and ensure compliance with the latest safety regulations for dams in NSW.

According to a media release issued by WaterNSW, remediation could involve “the construction of a concrete buttress and/or anchoring to strengthen the current wall, however, these responses are still being investigated.”

While not all councils agree on whether the dam wall itself should be raised, they most definitely need the NSW Government to ensure adequate flood mitigation and emergency management measures are in place.

Given the ever-increasing likelihood of extreme weather events, WSROC has also been urging the NSW Government to reverse its shock decision to cease contributing to the NSW Emergency Services Levy.

The funds raised by the Emergency Services Levy are used to support the work of the NSW Rural Fire Service, the NSW State Emergency Service, and the NSW Fire and Rescue Service.

In the absence of NSW Government support, it falls to local councils and insurance companies to fund the levy.

NSW is the only mainland state that still funds emergency services this way, shifting the cost burden onto councils and private insurers.

According to one study, this has resulted in insurance premiums in NSW being some 15 per cent higher than in other states, with 13 per cent of NSW households being uninsured — double the rate of Victoria.

You can read more about the Emergency Services Levy and the potentially disastrous impact of the Government’s decision at this link.

WaterNSW’s statement concerning Warragamba Dam can be seen here.


Barry Calvert —  President, WSROC.


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