2000 – Protecting Environment Flows While Catering for Urban Water Supply Demand – The Cowarra Off-Creek Dam Experience

Murray Thompson and Geoff Chenhall

The Hastings District Water Supply Augmentation Scheme [HDWS] includes a 10GL off-creek storage dam, which is currently under construction and due for completion in October 2001. The Cowarra off-creek storage dam is required to meet predicted long-term urban growth demands for water supply and to ensure protection of environmental flows in the Hastings River.

Since 1985 the Hastings Council has progressively developed a strategy for the augmentation of the water supply scheme. A very successful ongoing consultation process with both the local community and key government agencies during the planning and implementation phases of this project has highlighted a number of key issues including:

“That the impact upon aquatic flora and fauna in the Hastings River should be minimised and appropriate safeguards developed by maintaining minimum river flows to ensure that the river habitat is not adversely affected”

The subsequent HDWS Environmental Impact Statement, 1995 was one of the first in NSW to recognise the importance of environmental river flows in the assessment of the aquatic ecological effects of water supply schemes. This paper to be presented to the ANCOLD Conference on Dams will detail the investigation, planning, implementation and current construction activities associated with the Cowarra Off-Creek Storage Dam.

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