THE region’s three Coalition parliamentarians have slammed any proposal to build Welcome Reef Dam on the Shoalhaven River, with one even saying any such move would mean “war”.
Gilmore MP Joanna Gash, Kiama MP Gareth Ward and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock have all come out stridently against any proposal, with Mrs Hancock saying “there would be an almighty uproar and it would lead to war”.
Leaked Coalition policy documents revealed the federal opposition was giving consideration to the construction of Welcome Reef Dam and raising Warragamba Dam.
The leaked document discuss the possibility of building about 100 dams across the nation to supply water to cities, farm irrigation networks and hydro electric power stations.
Welcome Reef Dam was first proposed more than 30 years ago but has been the subject of strong opposition from conservationists and Shoalhaven City Council.
Successive state governments have also rejected a dam on the middle reaches of the river but have allowed the Sydney Catchment Authority to retain extensive tracts of land in the area.
Mrs Hancock dismissed the talk of Welcome Reef Dam.
“It is unsustainable and unnecessary – we have an expensive desalination plant to supply Sydney’s water – the detrimental effect on the Shoalhaven River would be unthinkable.”
Mrs Hancock said in her understanding the dam could not be built as much of the land around it has been declared a national park.
“I think we had legislation passed by the state many years to stop any such move.
“I think it was one of those independent studies, it’s not federal policy, it’s a discussion paper and I’m sure no locals would support it.
“I think they need to shelve that draft paper in the bottom draw.”
Kiama MP Gareth Ward also ruled it out.
“Welcome Reef Dam is an evaporation basin, it is like an ashtray on a motorbike and the state government does not support Welcome Reef Dam,” he said.
He said he would be happy to tell Opposition Leader Tony Abbott so.
Despite Mr Abbott saying “we must avoid our dam phobia” Mrs Gash said she would fight against a move to construct the dam.
“Simply it won’t happen,” she said.
“It has been proven unviable, environmentally impossible, simply the area is too shallow,” she said.
She admitted she had not seen the leaked discussion paper.
“I understand Welcome Reef was listed on it, it was a draft discussion paper, I welcome discussion on issues and that is what this is, we must look at ways of harnessing our water supplies.
“We haven’t built a dam in 20 years and we need to look at ways of getting water into the north where it is needed.
“That’s why we have discussion papers.”