Any delay to raising the Wyangala Dam wall to enhance water security in the Lachlan River catchment is a delay to future prosperity for the region.
Raising the dam wall by 10 metres to increase the capacity of Wyangala Dam would increase water security for all those communities along the Lachlan River catchment, from Cowra, Forbes, Grenfell, Parkes, Temora, West Wyalong and Young in my electorate to communities further west, such as Condobolin, Lake Cargelligo, Hillston and Booligal.
The dam upgrade would increase its capacity to a further 650 gigalitres to ensure more water will be available when the next drought occurs.
The Federal Government has a vision for Agriculture to grow to a $100 billion industry by 2030 – for this seed to grow, we need to add water.
But this is not just about water supply for farmers and towns.
Traffic along the Newell Highway – a significant freight corridor of commerce between Melbourne and Brisbane – ground to a halt in for six weeks in 2016 due to the flooding of the Lachlan River, with reports a study finding the closure cost the national economy some $150 million – which has been described as a conservative estimate.
As the Minister responsible for water infrastructure, I established the National Water Grid in 2019 to build dams, to build our nation’s resilience to be better placed to counter the effects of droughts and flooding rains.
From an initial investment of $1.5 billion, a further $2 billion was announced in the 2020 Budget to make the National Water Grid a 10-year, $3.5 billion program – but the Federal Government has to rely on States and Territories to be willing partners to build dams.
I have spoken to the Minister for Water Melinda Pavey, the State Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke and Cowra Shire Mayor Bill West regarding this issue and will continue to work collaboratively with all levels of government to ensure the best outcomes for the communities which stand to benefit from this important water infrastructure project.
I note the scepticism of the chair of a recent New South Wales Parliamentary Inquiry into the viability of two projects the State and Federal Governments were working towards bringing to fruition.
It would be a travesty to start taking advice from the city-centric Greens on what regional infrastructure to build – they have no concept about the needs of regional Australia and they would be content to see our thriving rural communities turn to dust.
They want to tear down, not build up, and they do not understand the value of water projects when it comes to growing agriculture or preventing devastating flooding.