Greens MP slams Needles Gap dam: 'stupidest idea in the state's history'

OPPONENTS to the Needles Gap Dam have cited heritage concerns, environmental devastation and downright senselessness as reasons to abort the idea. 

The state government announced on Friday it would fund the $150 million dam at Needles Gap, between Mandurama and Canowindra along the Belubula River, yet a feasibility study had not been ordered. 

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said the project was completely ridiculous and the money would be better spent on projects such as stormwater harvesting.

“It’s the stupidest idea in the state’s history,” he said. 

Mr Buckingham’s main concerns are about the impact of the dam on the Lachlan Catchment, the impact on hydrology of the Belubula River and the destruction of heritage-listed limestone caves.

He believes the dam will be useless because of its close proximity to Carcoar Dam, Lake Rowlands and Flyers Creek dam. 

The map shows exactly where the dam will be.

The map shows exactly where the dam will be.

The proposed site is downstream of Cadia Valley Operations’ tailings dam.

“Why would you build a dam which is downstream from another dam and why would you build it downstream from Cadia’s tailings dam?” Mr Buckingham said.

“The run-off of heavy metals would go straight into the Needles Gap Dam. 

“There’s already elevated levels of some of those metals in the river.”

Mr Buckingham said in the 2009 Centroc water security study the Needles Gap Dam did not rate a mention.

He said the economic benefit of the Needles Gap dam would be almost non-existent because of its size and therefore could not be used as an irrigation dam. 

In comparison to the proposed 90,000 megalitre dam, in the same catchment area Wyangala Dam is 1.22 million megalitres, Lake Brewster is 154,000 and Carcoar Dam is 35,800 megalitres.

OUR SAY: DUE PROCESS VITAL FOR DAM PROJECT

Member for Calare John Cobb, who resurrected the idea of the Needles Gap Dam earlier this year after it had been put off for four decades, said the community would not put up with people who stood in the way of the region’s water security. 

“People who do not understand the needs of the central west and put their politics before their people should find out the what, where and how before making statements to please their party faithful in Sydney,” he said.

Inland Rivers Network president Bev Smiles said the government stopped building dams in western NSW 25 years ago because it was common knowledge there were better methods to secure water. 

“There are more efficient ways like water tanks, more efficient appliances and water spraying methods for crops,” she said. 

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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