Bungling stopped building of Welcome Reef dam near Braidwood NSW

We reconsider building the Welcome Reef dam on the Shoalhaven River near Braidwood for Sydney’s water needs

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Warragamba Dam

Warragamba Dam was spilling water yesterday, when some said it would never be full again Source: The Sunday Telegraph

If you ever wanted proof of the collective insanity caused by climate alarmism, just look out the window.

We were told to expect endless drought. Instead, it’s been raining buckets all summer, and the dams are now full to overflowing.

Good thing we built that desalination plant.

If we’d built a new dam during the last drought instead, we wouldn’t be wasting millions of dollars worth of fresh water draining out to sea.

The electricity-guzzling desalination plant at Kurnell cost taxpayers $1.8 billion to build and has been pumping out 90 million litres of water every day, at a daily cost of $50,000. That’s the price of 45 hospital beds.

Sydney was meant to have a new dam already. Our far-sighted forebears bought up land for 40 years for the Welcome Reef dam on the Shoalhaven River near Braidwood.

But in 2002 the dam was killed off by none other than Bob Carr, the deep green former NSW premier identified last week as our next foreign minister.

It was a rich irony that – a few hours after Carr’s appointment was announced – the gates of Warragamba Dam were opened and the dam overflowed for the first time in 14 years.

When Carr declared Welcome Reef would not be built, it seems he tried to make sure no future government could reverse his decision. He locked up 6000ha of the land that had been set aside for the dam and declared it a national park.

One of the arguments used against Welcome Reef was that it was in a rain shadow and would take too long to fill. Well, so is Warragamba, and it overflowed on Friday night.

“It’s safe to say Welcome Reef would be filling up very nicely now,” says civil engineer and hydrology specialist John Brown, who carried out the original environmental impact study on Welcome Reef dam in 1980 for the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board.

“I think the government should look at it again. There is insufficient storage on the Shoalhaven to carry us through severe droughts.

“Even though water consumption per capita has decreased, the population has increased.”

Brown found no fauna, flora or Aboriginal sites would be endangered by Welcome Reef and there was only a 10 per cent chance it would not fill to its minimum operating level in four months.

At Braidwood last week, near where the dam would have been built, rainfall recorded was 142mm, and at nearby Hillview it was 111mm. It’s been flooding in Goulburn, Cooma, Queanbeyan and other districts around the dam site. Welcome Reef would have been overflowing now if dams hadn’t been demonised by deluded greenies.

Plenty of people would like to hear our highly paid Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery explain how he got it so wrong.

He reportedly has skipped the rain and gone to Europe. But in 2007 he warned that rain would become increasingly rare, and “isn’t actually going to fill our dams and river systems”, so we would need desalination plants instead.

Those kinds of airy predictions, issued with the stamp of authority, sucked in a lot of gullible people.

The last time I wrote about the need to build more dams, for instance, I was bombarded with angry emails like this:

“Hey Einstein, “And what exactly do you think the new dam is going to store? “Dirt? Air?”

No, mate. Water. Fresh H20 dropping free from the heavens into our dams, where it would stay until the next drought.

This is what humans have been doing since the dawn of civilisation. But under the yoke of those who want to turn the clock back on civilisation, we now view dams as Satan’s work, and no politician dares risk the wrath of the Greens.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s critics like to accuse him of being rooted in the 1950s, but Greens leader Bob Brown and his acolytes are stuck in pre-history.

We were so busy bowing to the voodoo of mathematical models purporting to predict drastic climate change that our craven political leaders didn’t even contemplate the thought that droughts always break.

One of the last jobs John Brown did before retiring was a water master plan for Botswana, including dams and a 400km pipeline from north to south. All have been or are being built. Botswana managed it. Why can’t we?

That’s a question for Premier Barry O’Farrell. What use is his massive mandate if he isn’t bold about something?

It’s no good complaining about the “stupid” contract his Labor predecessors locked the state into, requiring the plant run continuously for two years. Pressuring the desal plant to halve its output of fresh water, as it announced last week, or leasing it out to private owners is not enough, either.

We need a new dam for a growing population. The government could easily pass an act of parliament reclaiming the national park and start work on the Welcome Reef dam immediately.

But don’t hold your breath.

Finally, it’s worth noting another of Bob Carr’s achievements as premier.

It was Carr, aka “Dubai Bob”, who saddled Sydney with the desalination plant. He made the announcement in 2005, after a $120,000 trip to Dubai, via London.

Let’s hope when he becomes foreign minister he doesn’t bring home any more bright ideas.

 

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