Thursday, May 30, 2024

Hawkesbury Mayor says Govt must act faster on flooding

Hawkesbury Mayor, Sarah McMahon says the NSW Government must act faster to protect the region from flooding.

Mayor McMahon met with NSW Minister for Water, Kevin Anderson and State Member for Hawkesbury, Robyn Preston yesterday after eight weeks of requesting an urgent meeting to address the issue of Warragamba Dam water levels, Council said in a statement.

“I appreciate that Mr Anderson and Ms Preston met with me [on Thursday], however I need to keep pressing for a solution to protect the Hawkesbury,” Mayor McMahon said.

“In this meeting, the NSW government has committed to talk in person with our community, and I am looking forward to finding out the detail of how this will occur, as soon as possible.

“We deserve a steadfast commitment from the NSW Government that they will invest in crucial short-term measures to help our community build flood resilience, both by lowering water levels in the Dam and ensuring we receive vital funding to improve flood evacuation routes.”

NSW Minister for Water, Kevin Anderson (file image).

The Mayor said she was pleased with the Water Minister’s initial response to the Council’s concerns and hoped it would lead to a new plan for protecting the Hawkesbury from future flooding.

“Just a matter of days ago, we had our sixth flood since 2020. The Hawkesbury has been crying out for help for years, yet our cries have not yet resulted in enough tangible outcomes to mitigate flood risk,” she said.

“The Government needs to act immediately, as homes, livelihoods and lives are at risk. Even though this flood was smaller than other recent floods, the anxiety, stress, and fear in the community is palpable.

“We understand that lowering the water level won’t stop flooding entirely but, combined with our support for raising the dam wall, it is another important tool that we can use to help our community.”

The Mayor said today’s meeting had followed numerous phone calls, letters and emails to State ministers, shadow ministers and local MPs by all Hawkesbury Mayors over the past three years.

This most recently included a 30 August 2022 letter seeking $9 million for upgrades to the Pitt Town Evacuation Route, which was sent to State Member for Hawkesbury Robyn Preston, State Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward, State Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke, State Shadow Minister for Roads John Graham and State Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib.

There has been limited response and we will be again be demanding this matter be treated with the urgency it deserves, the Mayor said.

“We are desperate for answers. We fully appreciate that water supply is important for the whole population of Sydney, but we can no longer put the Hawkesbury community at repeated risk. It is too great a cost on our community – a threat we live with every day that affects us all.”

“As I told Mr Anderson and Ms Preston, we will continue to lobby the State Government to lower the water levels in the dam and help improve the resilience of the Hawkesbury community; our people, our farms and our businesses – against flooding.

“Hawkesbury City Council will never stop fighting to protect our residents and properties,” she said.

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