Niall Blair and Steph Cooke at Wyangala Dam

The Nationals in Government have flagged raising the wall of Wyangala Dam as a way to improve water security for the Lachlan.

Results of a thorough investigation into water security options for the Lachlan region, including raising the Wyangala dam wall as a key recommendation, were released on Tuesday.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Water, Deputy NSW Nationals Leader Niall Blair, said drought security and flood management had been dual challenges for the Lachlan Valley and this potential infrastructure plan would alleviate those issues and deliver a much better system for the community.

“The study, completed in two phases, examined raising the wall at Wyangala Dam by 10 metres against constructing a new dam near Cranky Rock on the Belubula River,” Mr Blair said. “Raising the wall was found to be the superior option in terms of cost, flood mitigation, hydrological modelling benefits, construction risk and environmental sustainability.

“It will increase the capacity to hold water in periods of surplus and deliver controlled release when water is needed. Crucially, it provides increased capability to manage flood events.

“Currently, the water delivery system in the Lachlan Valley lacks the capacity and capability to mitigate in periods of drought and flood and the reliability of water availability is well below acceptable standards – this plan will resolve that.”

NSW Nationals Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said in the space of two years, the Lachlan Valley had endured significant flooding and was now going through severe drought.

“The inability of the water system to mitigate these events is having adverse economic, social, and environmental impacts for the region’s water dependent agricultural and mining industries,” Ms Cooke said. “These industries contribute heavily to the economies of our local communities and one cannot survive without the other.”

NSW Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Rick Colless said the community needed long-term solutions and this was one option for ensuring water security in the region.

“We want to make sure that the recommendation taken forward considers NSW taxpayers and is future-proofing communities in the Lachlan Valley region,” Mr Colless said. “Water security is the most critical issue facing our regional communities and we are doing the necessary work to make sure future generations don’t have to fear loss of water.”

The Nationals in Government will now consider these recommendations before making a decision regarding the funding for the necessary engineering studies and statutory environmental approvals to inform a final business case.