Water efficiency versus Public Sector Efficiency
“For a major audit to be conducted on the Tillegra project (Tillegra ‘water supply option’, Newcastle Herald August 14) at a cost of $ 400 million is ludicrous”, said Carol Pasenow, Chair, No Tillegra Dam Group. “The project cost of $ 477 million for Tillegra was always going to blow out with a predicted overrun of 56%. The cost now for a dam like Tillegra would be close to double the projected cost in 2010.”
“The Hunter has a secure water supply and has survived with no water restrictions through a recent 10 year drought. In fact the Hunter has had no water restrictions imposed on users since the 1980’s and utilises no water wise rules”, said Carol Pasenow.
The reliability of water supply in the Hunter has been used by Hunter Water as a catalysis for dam options when the need for a large supply has been proven unnecessary. In 2010 the then Auditor General stated that Hunter Water’s absence of a business case for the dam could result in a performance audit of the project. “Hunter Water has never been able to provide an economic justification for the then $477 million Tillegra Dam”, Ms Carol Pasenow said.
“The state’s chief financial watch dog rejected the documents that Hunter Water claimed made a case and asked for a ‘sound and comprehensive’ analysis. This is a savage indictment of Hunter Water’s cost-benefit study and shows they had never been unable to justify the expenditure of household money on the Tillegra project.
The Tillegra Dam project underwent an 18month rigorous assessment by The Department of Planning. Five independent expert reports demonstrated there was no justification for Tillegra. Tillegra or any other dam reliant on the Williams or Chichester River catchment would mean that 86% of the Hunter’s water supply being reliant on one source, this was catalysis for Tillegra being rejected.
The Department of Planning’s independent reviewer, Centre for International Economics (CIE) in their independent economic audit of Tillegra found there “would be a portfolio of options that would result in a greater improvement of net social welfare compared to Tillegra.” CIE also found that “Tillegra was not the best option to meet Hunter Water’s supply needs”.
If the new Lower Hunter Water panel undertakes a rigorous analysis of all water supply options, which include water conservation, recycling and demand management, the need for any dam will be negated.
NTDG now call on Premier O’Farrell to put this to rest once and for all and honour his pre-election promise – NO DAM at Tillegra. Tillegra Dam cost the Labor government seats in the last election as will any other dam proposal at Tillegra. The people of the Hunter have spoken of their rejection of a dam and their support for a sustainable water plan. The former government made a commitment that all land at Tillegra be sold and no further dam option be considered for the Hunter. The O’Farrell government needs to follow through with this commitment and ensure land sales commence.
For more information contact; Carol Pasenow 0427 607 491 or
Linda Bowden 49959200, 0416 207 359