HISTORY: Mill pushed water demand

In 1967, Shoalhaven Shire Council resolved to build Danjera Dam.

The dam was built to ensure the flow of water at the Burrier pumping station in the driest season and to keep faith with the paper mill, which was using 4 million gallons of water per day.

As the mill expanded at a rapid rate, council realised the continued need to meet its requirements and authorised construction of the dam across Danjera Creek at Yalwal at the site of the former town.

At an estimated cost of 660,000 pounds, the dam wall was to be 93 feet high and hold 3000 million gallons of water.

Unpredictable conditions and the geological nature of the country caused some added expense and the cost of construction blew out from an estimated 1.86 million pounds to 2.44 million pounds.

Construction of Danjera Dam by the successful tenderer Birdsall and White Pty Ltd, commenced in November 1967 and it was officially opened by shire president Cr John Hatton, on April 15, 1972, almost a century after the goldfield opened there.

Rainbow trout fingerlings were released into the dam to stock it for anglers.

The catchment area is 114 square kilometres, and the capacity at full supply level is 7800 million litres.

When Bamarang Dam, which is currently supplying most of the region’s water, falls to 60 per cent capacity, it is refilled from Danjera Dam.

Level 1 water restrictions were enforced in the Shoalhaven on September 3 in order to preserve the region’s supplies.

On Wednesday, September 11, 1968, The Shoalhaven & Nowra News published an article titled ‘Drought and hard times looming for farmers’.

The article warned of the difficult farming condition ahead, unless good rain was to fall – 50 years later our region’s primary producers face the same difficulties.

The findings were based on the monthly reports of district agronomist Mr G Giles and district dairy officer Mr R Gamsby. 

“Water supplies are falling, but have not yet reached dangerous levels,” the article read.

As it was at a time prior to the completion of Danjera Dam, the article went on to describe the chief source of water in the district as springs, which were still flowing freely.

Weather was described as “variable”, with rainfall restricted to light showers, totalling less than an inch for the month. Registrations at Nowra totalled 12.98 inches over seven months – half the average.

  • Information and photos in this article kindly provided by the Shoalhaven Historical Society.

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