dam raising

The Lake Yarrunga Task Force
(a joint venture of the KV Environment Group, the KV Tourist Association
and the KV Community Association)


The Tallowa Dam Campaign


from a NSW government press release, Feb 8 2006:

"The Government will not proceed with the proposal to raise the dam wall at Tallowa Dam. The Sydney Catchment Authority will examine potential for increases in transferring water from the Shaoalhaven. This investigation will look at changed pumping rules and minor modifications to the existing network. These changes could deliver additional water without raising the Tallowa Dam wall. In examining the proposal the SCA will minimise river health impacts."

This web-site is now closed.

It remains here as a historical record of a successful community campaign
to convince politicians and bureaucrats not to proceed with an ill-advised plan.

Scroll down to see the rest of this site as it was on February 8 2006:



5.30pm this Saturday 11th February at
Riverside Park, Kangaroo Valley


picnic rugs/chairs, food to BBQ, salads to share, drinks, cutlery/plates/cups/glasses

other material

* media release, Lake Yarrunga Task Force (17 August 2005)
* media release, Councillor Gareth Ward (16 August 2005)
* letter from Elizabeth George to the Hon Bob Debus (18 August 2005)
* letter from John Skidmore to the Hon Michael Costa (18 August 2005)
* contact details of politicians, Lake Yarrunga Task Force Campaign Committee (24 August 2005)
* model letter to politicians, Lake Yarrunga Task Force Campaign Committee (24 August 2005)
* minutes of public meeting held on 16 August 2005 at Kangaroo Valley Hall
* lyric of a song by Andy Gordon about raising the wall of Tallowa Dam


The New South Wales government has announced that it plans to raise the height of Tallowa Dam by an unspecified amount in order to store more water from the Kangaroo River, which it would pump to Sydney to help ease Sydney's water crisis. Not only do we believe that this would be disastrous for the residents of Kangaroo Valley (increased risk of major flooding etc) but that Sydney could solve its crisis by better use of its own water.

for suggestions as to whom to write to protest, and what to write, click here [Shoalhaven River Alliance] and here [Lake Yarrunga Task Force Campaign Committee]

The background

Over the past 18 months, the Kangaroo Valley Community Association, and later the Lake Yarrunga Taskforce, have had meetings with State Government ministers and senior executives of the Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA), the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART, who issue SCA's Operating Licence) and the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR) over the pumping regime operating from Tallowa Dam. These meetings have sought to limit the impact on Kangaroo Valley and the Shoalhaven River of excessive pumping from the dam. SCA have been pumping the lake down to provide "air space" to capture flushes and maximise the harvest for Sydney's water supply.

Pumping the dam down more than 3 metres below the spillway has caused huge environmental damage along the banks of Lake Yarrunga. Tourism and business in the Valley have suffered and the lower Shoalhaven has been without its needed flushes of fresh water.

dry lake bed

However, in a single stroke all this negotiation was thrown out when former Premier Bob Carr announced the dam was to be raised to harvest even more water for Sydney.

On raising the dam there has been:

  • no community consultation

  • no Environmental Impact Statement

  • no Flood Study!

Do we feel used? Damn right we do!

Where are we now?
Despite further meetings with SCA chief, Graeme Head, and Minister Bob Debus no one in government will say how high the dam will be raised. The most commonly quoted figure is 5 metres - it seems unlikely that the huge expense would be undertaken for anything less. The taskforce calculated that raising the lake 5 metres would back up its waters under Hampden Bridge to a level of 3.3 metres over the gauging weir. SCA had quoted a one metre rise at the bridge. After residents advised them of this error, SCA amended its figures and admitted we were correct.

Did the former Premier make his announcement based on faulty figures?

There is also a total lack of information on how the process will be managed.

  • Will businesses dependent on the Lake be compensated for loss of livelihood?

  • When the Lake rises will residents with adjoining land have new setbacks on their property?

  • Will affected property owners be able to get insurance once their land is deemed flood-prone?

These and other questions have been put to Minister Bob Debus and Graeme Head but they have not yet provided answers.

What does the raised level mean for Kangaroo Valley?
We believe SCA want the increased height as "air space" in which to catch flushes that would otherwise flow down the lower Shoalhaven. This will add up to 60 billion litres to the amount they can harvest from each flush, which they will then pump to Sydney over the subsequent months. With the current limitations on pumping capacity this would take more than 3 months. With the planned pipeline, it will still take more than a month.

If the lake is raised 5 metres:

  1. The picnic grounds and car park at the dam (4m above current lake level) would be one metre under water. Access would be impossible.

  2. The water would cover all the lower part of Bendeela Campground, a popular FREE picnic and camping space for the last 30 years (and provided to the people of KV at the time of construction of Tallowa Dam as an access point to the lake and river).

  3. The beach and canoe launching facilities under Hampden Bridge would disappear.

  4. The lake would back up to somewhere in the village - possibly into Nugents Creek.

Flood waters have risen to within a few metres of Hampden Bridge four times in the last sixteen years. Flood waters closed the main road near the tennis courts in 1989, 1991, 1998 & 1999.


Worst case scenario
Imagine one of KV's one-in-ten-year deluges, which can raise the water to within a few metres of the Bridge. Any resident here before 1999 will confirm that. With the dam 5 metres higher, the flooded lake will be 5 metres higher before water can escape over the top. How much higher will it be under Hampden Bridge? How much further will it flood into the village?

Some Village buildings get flooded as it is. Moss Vale Road near the tennis courts gets covered and closed to traffic. This happened most recently in 1999, but also in 1989, 1991 and 1998. Imagine it with an extra 5 metres of dam stopping it from getting away. Don't even think about the 1-in-50 or 1-in-100-year floods.

flood waters


  • 1. that Sydney uses 634,000 million litres of water each year

  • 2. if Sydney consumption per household was the same as Shoalhaven's it would save 66,000 million litres per year

  • 3. If Sydney recycled 20% of its water (which is the target for other Australian Capital cities) it would save another 113,000 million litres per year

  • 4. if 25% of Sydney households installed a rainwater tank and used this on their garden another 27,000 million litres would be saved per year

  • 5. by combining demand management, recycling and domestic stormwater harvesting, Sydney could save 206,000 million litres per year - there would not be a need to raise the wall of Tallowa Dam!

  • What can we do?

    Support your community and make your voice heard!

    updated November 26 2006
    html by webmaster wes [email]

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