100 new dams are not the solution

THE Opposition’s draft proposal to build up to 100 new dams across Australia is grandiose and ill-conceived, and should be rejected by the Opposition leader.

Implementing this policy would be extremely expensive, unnecessary and environmentally destructive.

With a total cost of up to $30 billion, Australians should be asking whether this fiscally irresponsible plan is in the national interest.

The draft policy cites food production, energy generation and flood mitigation as reasons for building dams across the country, but not one of these stands up to close scrutiny.

NSW’s rivers, wetlands and freshwater fish populations have been severely degraded by the construction of dams and over-extraction of water.

In the Murray Darling Basin, with water entitlements fully allocated, building dams will make no difference to the availability of water for agriculture.

Agricultural production increases in NSW will be driven by improvements in water efficiency, not the construction of more dams. 

For our towns and cities, water efficiency, demand management and recycling are less costly and environmentally harmful than new dams.

Premier Barry O’Farrell recognised this when he opposed the construction of the Tillegra Dam as a solution to Newcastle’s water supply needs.

Claims that increasing the height of the Warragamba Dam is the solution to flood risk in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley require close scrutiny, and informed public debate.

Managing water levels in existing dams, investing in improved flood risk prediction and implementing robust land use planning controls are more cost-effective solutions.

Increasing the height of Warragamba Dam will be costly and environmentally destructive, and will not guarantee protection from extreme flood events.

If the Opposition is serious about renewable energy, it should support a market-based mechanism and federal financing aimed at the most cost-effective clean energy solutions.

PEPE CLARKE

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

NATURE CONSERVATION 

COUNCIL OF NSW

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