Funding for dam safety in doubt


Funding for dam safety in doubt

Warragamba Dam spilling

TIMELAPSE footage shot from Friday, 2nd of March, shows the damn overflowing and spilling

Full Warragamba Dam ‘to spill over’

The Sydney Catchment Authority has predicted Warragamba Dam will spill over this evening after heavy rain in catchment areas, and nearby to…

Warragamba Dam

Warragamba Dam … spilling after the recent NSW floods. Source: The Sunday Telegraph

THE state government plans to cut funding for dam safety upgrades by up to $110 million despite official warnings many dams do not comply with the NSW Dams Safety Committee’s (DSC) standards for “extreme floods”.

A State Water statement quietly tabled to parliament shows Treasury is increasing the dividends to come out of State Water – in breach of a Barry O’Farrell promise to freeze dividends.

But, at the same time as it makes a grab for more than $200 million in dividends, it is cutting the money for dam upgrades – which typically include building bigger dam walls and extra spillways.

“State Water has commenced a review of the future dam safety program,” the statement says.

“The review has identified potential options for revised program delivering savings of over $46.1 million (and possibly as high as $110.8 million) to the current dam safety upgrade costs.

“State Water will continue to engage the DSC in developing a more fiscally efficient dam safety upgrade program.”

The statement reveals dividends paid are to rise from $3 million in 2010 to $22.3 million in 2012 and keep rising to $31 million by 2017.


“Many of State Water’s dams no longer comply with the NSW Dams Safety Committee’s standards and guidelines for extreme floods and earthquakes,” opposition water spokesman Luke Foley said. “Tens of millions of dollars that State Water could and should spend on upgrading dam safety will instead be paid to the state government as dividend payments.

“Dam safety upgrade capital expenditure will be $120 million lower over the next 10 years than was budgeted under Labor. At the same time, the O’Farrell government is budgeting for an extra $260 million in dividends from State Water over the next 10 years.”


The head of the DSC Brian Cooper said his committee had held talks with State Water about the cuts and had to be happy with risk assessments to allow them to proceed. Minister of Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson said: “State Water is committed to maintaining dams that are safe.”


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