Council considering report to decommission Jerrara Dam

Although divided on what to do with Jerrara Dam, Kiama councillors are unanimously considering a report outlining a proposal to have it decommissioned.

Director of Engineering and Works Bryan Whittaker said councillors recognised the need to seriously consider the decommissioning of the dam given the information and potential environmental impacts provided in the report.

“There were some divided opinions about the proposal to reclassify and sell part of the residue site however [the councillors] resolved to investigate this,” Mr Whittaker said.

The dam’s flood-handling capacity and expected upgrade costs were also outlined in the report.

Required improvements to the dam, which was built as a water supply in 1955, include raising the dam’s earth wall and widening the spillway and have been estimated to cost more than $3 million.

The cost of decommissioning was however estimated at $680,000 in 2008 and Mr Whittaker said the cost could be considerably less if the excavated dam wall material was used on-site.

The report states the dam’s removal would impact wildlife in the area and Mr Whittaker said any environmental impacts would need to be identified. “It is expected that the habitat for flora and fauna will need to be considered. This may be partially addressed by providing compensatory wetlands on the site,” he said.

Dam alerts and potential evacuations could also become be an issue for residents living downstream. Water levels at the facility have previously reached emergency alert levels after prolonged heavy rain, like in March 2011.

Meanwhile, Mr Whittaker says there are no concerns about the dam’s current safety, despite heavy rainfall forecast this week.

Residents on Jerrara Dam

With council unsure on what to do with Jerrara Dam The Current spoke to local residents about whether they think a decommissioning will impact them.

Words: ANDREW PEARSON
Video: BELINDA CLEARY

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