The NSW State Government announced in November 2006 the controversial proposal to build a massive 450GL dam (approx. the size of Sydney Harbour!) on the Williams River in the Dungog Shire about 1 1/2 hours north of Newcastle.
The announcement was made with absolutely no consultation with land holders in the proposed inundated area, water users down the length of the Williams River, Dungog Shire Council, the people of the Dungog and surrounding areas, recreational users of the river and the magnificent valley.
The dam, if constructed, would inundate over 2000 hectares of prime productive farmland, and displace 90 farming families. It would destroy the Williams River ecosystem which includes many platypus, mussels, freshwater crayfish, bass, long-necked turtles, water dragons, two hectares of magnificent river oaks and not to forget the ancient watergum (Tristaniopsis laurina) at Precipice Bend. The destruction of river ecosystems by dams is well documented by the thousands of publications available in the global literature that report the adverse effects of dams on river and riparian ecosystems.
The NSW State Government and its water instrumentality, Hunter Water Corporation, are railroading through this proposal. There is evidence to suggest the proposal came about for political reasons and was a knee jerk response to the extended drought recently affecting much of NSW. There is a glaring lack of interest, research or recognition of alternative methods of water harvesting which would be more economic, safer, sustainable, and less environmentally and socially damaging in the longer term. Not one of the water planning documents released by HWC prior to November 2006 state that the Tillegra Dam option is desirable.
This is a water grab by the State Government of massive proportions and it will be end-users (ordinary Hunter Region water rate payers) who will be paying huge dividends to State Government coffers.
We are opposing the damming of the Williams River at Tillegra because of the serious social, ecological and economic implications of damming this healthy river.
We seriously object to the complete absence of community consultation prior to this proposal, and the disregard shown to the community in railroading the process through.
Proper consultative water planning, which includes researching all possible methods of water conservation, including demand management, investment in more recycling, rainwater tank installation, and stormwater harvesting, must replace this knee jerk proposal that is politically motivated.