Ministers in battle over delayed dam release
As Warragamba Dam spilled on Saturday, adding to fears of flooding in Western Sydney, it can be revealed two NSW ministers have been fighting over the failure to reduce water levels in the impoundment in recent months despite predictions of a major rain event associated with La Nina.
The Sunday Telegraph understands Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott Mr Elliott is furious at Water Minister Melinda Pavey's resistance to reduce the volume of water in the dam.
It is understood Mr Elliot, the Baulkham Hills MP, whose electorate would be partially impacted by a flood event, has been raising the matter with Ms Pavey over the past year on behalf of the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) and concerned local residents.
The matter was also raised at a "crisis" flood meeting held in October last year with representatives from the NSW SES, Resilience NSW, Water NSW attending along with Mr Elliott, Ms Pavey and potentially impacted ministers including Penrith MP Stuart Ayres.
At the time, the dam was at 98.2 per cent capacity.
However, a source familiar with the meeting said Water NSW said the premature release of water was not necessary. The source also said part of Ms Pavey's resistance to releasing additional water from the dam was how rural communities would react to "Sydney wasting water".
Ms Pavey argued at the time that WaterNSW was "managing capacity", releasing 2500mL a day.
Under the operating licence, water cannot be released from a drinking water supply dam except in exceptional circumstances. When the water levels reach one metre from the limit, or its Full Supply Level, small releases are made to maintain this level.
However, it can be revealed high level discussions have been underway about whether the rule should change.
A spokeswoman for Ms Pavey said 130 gigalitres had been released from the dam in recent months to keep it at the operational safety level.
Originally published as Ministers in battle over delayed dam release