Weather News

Farmers fear water supply will dry up if hydro-electric dam project goes ahead

By Tim Fookes, Thursday July 30, 2020 - 07:39 EST
ABC image
Farmers Peter Walton and Lloyd Cleaver are concerned Frying Pan Creek will run dry if proposed hydro dams are built upstream. - ABC

A proposed hydro-electric dam in central-west NSW could result in nearby stock water supplies drying up, according to neighbouring farmers.

Altura Group has proposed the construction of two hydro dams on properties at Yetholme, between Bathurst and Lithgow.

It is expected the dams would have the capacity to hold three gigalitres of water.

The dams would be built on two properties, with construction proposed to be begin in 2022 and be completed by 2025.

Altura Group director Rosahlena Robinson said the pumped storage hydro project would see the two dams connected by a pipe with water flowing through turbines underneath.

"It works like a large water battery, soaking up a lot of energy when there's a lot of sun and wind," she said.

"It would have the capacity to generate 325MW of power, which would be enough to supply power to 240,000 homes.

"We are still in the early stages but, if the project goes ahead, it would become very beneficial for the supply of electricity on the grid."

Water supply fears

Lloyd Cleaver said he feared his 300-hectare property at Locksley, east of Bathurst, would lose its water supply that ran through the Frying Pan Creek on his property.

"When we bought the property in the 1980s, one requirement was permanent running water for our livestock and crops," Mr Cleaver said.

"Even during the worst droughts, while it has stopped flowing, there were still pools of water we could use.

"We have never not had water in the creek before."

Mr Cleaver believed the hydro dams above his property could result in the creek, which runs for 1.5 kilometres through his property, drying up due to the water being captured in the dams above.

"We need an absolute guarantee from the developers that we will continue to have a water supply coming through our property. We need that in writing," he said.

"Without our water supply, it would make the running of our farms totally unreliable."

Mr Cleaver said there was also concern about the impact the dams could have on wildlife in the area, including the rare Bathurst copper butterfly.

"There's plenty of wildlife in the area around the creek and over the years we've seen kangaroos, wombats, echidnas and even the occasional sighting of a platypus," he said.

Company confident of solution

Altura Group said discussions would continue with neighbouring landholders in the hope a resolution could be reached.

"We have come out early to let the community know what we are doing," Ms Robinson said.

"We've met with some of the neighbouring farmers and we will investigate their concerns over water supply running through their properties.

"The hydro dam project isn't intended to impact on the flow of the creek, and it's our expectation we will be able to come to a resolution with the landholders."

Mr Cleaver said he needed to be sure the creek would continue to flow.

"We aren't against these types of projects as long as they don't affect a farmer's water supply," he said.

"If we can't get a guarantee that our water supply will continue, we'll get the lawyers involved if we have to."


© ABC 2020

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

Sydney surfer dies after slamming into storm water drain, wild weather forces evacuations on NSW South Coast

17:22 EST

A surfer has died after being slammed into a storm water drain at Collaroy on Sydney's northern beaches.

Flooding in Nowra as big waves pound NSW coastline

14:22 EST

Rain, flooding, damaging winds and damaging surf are all occurring in eastern NSW today as a complex low pressure system spins over the Tasman Sea.