A long-term plan to reduce flood risk in the most flood exposed region in New South Wales, the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.
The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley covers 425 square kilometres of floodplain from Bents Basin, near Wallacia to the Brooklyn Bridge. It includes Penrith, Richmond, Windsor, Wallacia and many surrounding suburbs. These areas are prone to rapid and deep flooding, and have the highest single flood exposure in NSW, if not Australia.
The NSW Government is now delivering Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities – Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy (the Flood Strategy).
This long-term strategy aims to reduce the risk to life, property and community from floods now and into the future. It is being delivered with local councils, businesses and the community.
While there hasn’t been a major flood in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley for over 25 years, floods can and will happen in the valley. Floods can happen in any given year, and sometimes without much warning.
In June 2016, the NSW Government committed around $58 million to implement phase one of the Flood Strategy. This phase focuses on planning for the proposal to raise Warragamba Dam for flood mitigation, as well as activities to reduce flood risk in the short term, where possible.
The cornerstone of the Flood Strategy is the proposal to raise Warragamba Dam 14 metres for flood mitigation. This will provide flood mitigation through the temporary storage and controlled release of floodwaters.
The strategy concluded that raising Warragamba Dam by around 14 metres is the best infrastructure option to reduce flood risk from floodwaters from the Warragamba River catchment.
The Flood Strategy also includes a range of other infrastructure and non-infrastructure outcomes that must also be part of the solution for managing ongoing flood risk.
Over $30 million is allocated to detailed planning, environmental assessments and community consultation for this proposal. At the end of phase one, a business case for this proposal will be provided to the NSW Government for consideration.
Work is also underway on the following to reduce flood risk in the short term:
The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Directorate in Infrastructure NSW is overseeing this work.
Following phase one, and subject to environmental and planning approvals, the NSW Government will consider the final business case for raising Warragamba Dam to provide flood mitigation. The estimated preliminary cost of raising Warragamba Dam is about $690 million (2015 dollars). Construction is expected to take approximately four years to complete.
At the end this phase, the Government will also consider the ongoing implementation, monitoring and improvement of the Flood Strategy.
Nothing can stop flooding completely in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. People will always need to evacuate when directed to protect lives in a flood emergency. If you live or work in the valley, know your flood risk and be prepared.
Find out more about how to prepare for a flood on the NSW State Emergency Service website.
For emergency help in floods and storms, call the NSW SES on 132 500.
In life-threatening emergencies, call 000 (triple zero).
1961 flood at Windsor looking towards the Blue Mountains
Source: Vic Gillespie Collection
A rescue scene during the 1867 Hawkesbury-Nepean flood
Source: Illustrated Sydney News, 16 Jul 1867 p.1; State Library of NSW
View of Windsor from George Street during the 1867 Hawkesbury-Nepean flood
Authors: W.H. Harrison, engraver, and O.R. Campbell, artist
Source: Illustrated Australian News, 27 Jul 1867 p.8; State Library of Victoria
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The NSW Government has announced the Hawkesbury-Nepean Flood Risk Management Strategy to reduce the potential flood risk to life, the economy and social amenity in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.READ MORE