The need to dam a highly productive river is yet to be proven...


Williams Valley

A great place to live


Williams River at Tillegra

Vital to our community


Williams Valley

Area to be inundated if the dam goes ahead...


Williams Valley

Prime agricultural land



A tradition on this productive land...

dairy cows


A living community...

Community Involvement

River water

Vital for biodiversity


Williams River



Riverine forest

A rich ecosystem vital for biodiversity


A special environment...

Could you vote for a party that would destroy this?


Tillegra Bridge

A dead end road? We think not!


No Way!

The need to dam a highly productive river is yet to be proven...

No Way!

Where is the community consultation

Mar 30th, 2008 by admin | 0

After attending the public meeting on Tillegra Dam at the James Theatre in Dungog recently I came away with the impression that there are issues that need to be addressed urgently before the Tillegra Dam project is set in concrete.

It would appear that Council has offered its unqualified support to the construction of the dam including voluntary or forced acquisition of effected lands without community consultation or endorsement and remains ignorant of or has chosen to ignore the feelings and concerns of the residents of the shire.

Apart from the impact on the 50 or so families affected by the dam there are wider community concerns that must be addressed paramount amongst is the long term affect on the region surrounding the dam and the downstream impact of reduced water flow on the river system, surrounding country side, wildlife and ecology.

All of the residents of the Dungog Shire will be affected by the construction of this dam and all are entitled to be listened to regardless of their views including supporters and opponents alike.

Dungog Council as the representatives of the population of the shire has an obligation to endorse and present the views of the majority of its ratepayers and not just roll over and accept what appears to be a most unpopular and arrogant decision by government that could be considered to be penalising Dungog Shire for governments lack of action and failure plan and ensure that the development of coastal and urban regions is only permitted following provision of the essential infrastructure.

The sudden announcement by the premier promised that both the Central Coast and Hunter Valley would be drought proofed by this dam but so far no mention has been made of how this will be achieved – for instance how and by what route will the water be transported from the dam to the Central Coast, what storage capacity will be included on the Central Coast to store and return water to the Hunter Valley in the event of a prolonged drought in this region, can the people of the Hunter Region now expect that water will be pumped in either direction and reticulated to their properties for drought proofing – or was this just another idle electioneering promise designed to appease a neglected electorate starved of water.

The meeting heard from many opponents of the dam including farmers and neighbours of the dam, down stream irrigators, social and recreational users of the river, those who have chosen to live along its banks, and others who visit the area occasionally for the view, peace and serenity provided by this free flowing natural waterway however supporters for its construction were silent and when asked by the Chamber of Commerce representative for anyone in the audience to speak in favour of the dam “not even an mouse was heard”.

The Federal Government has become so concerned at the uncontrolled exploitation of the Murray Darling River by the states that it plans to take over management of this national treasure before it is totally destroyed however this may well prove too late even for the proposed billions of dollars promised to fix the problem due to the long term effects of salination. One may also ask if a similar fate awaits our little river if local and state governments get their way and build Tillegra Dam.

In looking into the wider issues surrounding the announcement of this proposal and the method used to bypass the normal approval process one must ask who are the real beneficiaries. The obvious answer is the people of the Central Coast who in the words of the premier “will be drought proofed for ever”. That this development may have a disastrous effect on the lifestyle of the residents of this shire is of little concern to the government and like China that relocated and destroyed for ever the lives of a million farmers to fulfil its socialist goals this government has little concern for a few old farmers up at some place that most of them have never heard of let alone visited – Dog-gone, Deadgong, Dun-gone, Dunno – the attitude seems to be that we are expendable and probably in a coalition seat – anyway and winning the Central Coast is far more important to Labor power brokers.

In addition to the people of the Central Coast who else benefits from this dam – the Labor Government by currying favour for its Central Coast members, the developers of hundreds of new homes on the Central Coast who have managed to bypass provision of the essential infrastructure for the future residents(approved by the same government), local and state governments who have pocketed the moneys derived from the various taxes, development applications, stamp duty and rates over the years and failed to deliver the infrastructure that the people of the Central Coast paid for.

But are there other winners?

We all know that local and state governments are strapped for funds as evidenced by the parlous state of our infrastructure, services and facilities and as one speaker at the meeting commented one only has to cross the border into NSW from any of the bordering states to discover that our roads are a total disaster and unfortunately for us Dungog has the deserved reputation of having the worst roads of any shire in Australia – other than a third world country where else do you find corrugated, rutted and potholed main streets in the main towns?

Could it be the intention of the government once Hunter Water has done the dirty work to sell the project to that magnanimous bank that has been handed so many prizes and is currently buying up water rights in the MIA? Would it be possible for this bank to then on sell this project to an overseas entity and would we then need to buy our own water back from some anonymous Bahamas based company that could not care less if the there are faults in the rock formation or expandable clay in the embankments so long as they make a profit?

If having developed this dam its recreational qualities could well be exploited by a developer friendly to government who subdivides the surrounds and sells off hundreds of waterfront lots, if this occurs could the surrounding hills echo from 5am on Sundays with the sounds of 2 stroke outboard motors? would float planes bring in holiday makers and most of all will all of this be of benefit to Dungog Shire?

The meeting was urged by a couple of speakers not to trust Hunter Water. As we all know Hunter Water is only a puppet of the state government to be used and abused as suits their political whim so it is obvious that whatever we are fed from that quarter needs to be taken with a large dose of salts as both will have the same effect.

We heard that the viability of Dungog Council may be at stake if the dam does not go ahead – one may well ask what use is a council if it does not know and fails to represent and support the views of the majority of its people.

To avoid any suggestion of collusion between the various authorities and levels of government perhaps a commission of enquiry to investigate all of the concerns, identify what alternatives are available and determine if there is really a need for a dam the size of two Sydney Harbours in the hills behind us is in the best interests of the nation.

If the dam is to be built we need some watertight guarantees to protect the interests of the shire and to ensure that ownership of our water remains in the hands of the people of this country and not some foreign entity.

Perhaps when it is all said an done providing water tanks to the people of the Central Coast to collect the rain where it falls most consistently – along the coast – is a better proposition than a massive dam on our doorstep.

Geoff Berry
WallarobbaLetter to Editor Dungog Chronicle 28 Feb 2007

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