The Nature Conservation Council has welcomed the decision by NSW Premier Kristina Keneally to scrap the proposal for Tillegra Dam in the Hunter Region. We are a member of the Save the Williams River Coalition and congratulate all the tireless local campaigners on a great outcome for the environment and community.
The Tillegra Dam would have flooded a 2000 hectare area of land along the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park. River flows downstream of the dam will be halved with potentially catastrophic consequences for native flora and fauna, including the platypus.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has been actively campaigning for river health for more than 10 years. For years the State government was asking the Hunter Valley to swallow the environmental degradation that comes with the Tillegra Dam. But why the overkill when there are low-impact or no-impact alternatives that can help secure the region’s water supply?
Demand management, greater water efficiency and water conservation are three effective tools in the fight to ensure drought security. They provide a more cost effective and environmentally positive alternative to dams.
Australians have never been more aware of the precious and finite nature of the nation’s water resources. We know they are keen to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and make a positive contribution to combating climate change. The opportunity exists to harness community awareness and goodwill into lasting behavioural change.
People are ready to reduce the amount of water they consume – they need the information and tools to make a real contribution.
Rainwater tanks are a largely untapped option for water conservation in NSW. Currently only 3.6 per cent of Hunter region residences rainwater harvest.
Rainwater harvesting has the added benefit of reducing household power consumption and leading to decreased greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies show installing a 2250L water tank for non-drinking purposes can reduce household consumption of mains power by about 30 per cent.
So without a dam, we believe the Hunter and Central Coast can achieve 28 gigalitres per year of rainwater harvesting, 37 gigalitres of stormwater harvesting, 42 gigalitres of recycled water for non-potable use and 31 gigalitres of recycled water for indirect potable use. Far from being up the proverbial creek without a paddle, the Hunter region can deliver 150 per cent of existing water supply without building the Tillegra Dam.