Strict Water Restrictions To Remain In NSW Despite Dam Levels Rising
NSW's dam levels have risen more than 22 percent since last week, but the government says it won't be led into a "knee jerk" reaction of scaling back water restrictions.
Melinda Pavey, the state's water minister, has confirmed level two water restrictions will remain in place despite the deluge of rain and flash flooding parts NSW experienced over the weekend.
Speaking to Deborah Knight on 2GB, Pavey said the government won't have a "knee jerk reaction" and lift the current restrictions.
But Pavey did say the "positive" outcome of the rain is that Sydney will not have to move to level three restrictions -- a fate that was being seriously considered by the government.
According to Sydney Water, the city's dams are sitting at 71.4 percent capacity, up 29.5 percent from the previous week.
"It’s too soon to say if the recent rain is the start of drought recovery, or welcome temporary relief from dry conditions," it said on its website.
"In the meantime, it's important we continue to conserve water so Level 2 water restrictions still apply."
Heavy rainfall over the weekend caused parts of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley to become inundated, with roads closed and a number of evacuation warnings issued.
Flooding in western Sydney also showed a plan to raise Warragamba Dam isn't a cure-all solution, experts say, given no water spilled over the dam wall over the weekend but thousands were still told to evacuate.
The NSW government controversially wants to raise the dam wall by at least 14 metres to potentially hold back additional water in the Blue Mountains.
But during the weekend, areas in Windsor, Sackville and Wallacia were flooded when the Hawkesbury River peaked despite Warragamba Dam being only about 50 percent full.
"The rain caused floods down all the tributary rivers downstream of Warragamba, while not a drop has spilled over the dam," Australian National University flooding expert Professor Jamie Pittock said on Tuesday.
The "real-life experiment" showed the coalition's push to raise the dam wall was flawed, Pittock told AAP.
"The government's flood strategy is relying solely on raising Warragamba Dam wall which would expose residents to flood risk," he said.
The dam mostly captures water from the catchment while the Hawkesbury River and its tributaries - such as the Nepean and the Grose rivers - fill up at choking points and eventually spill over during heavy rain events.
Pittock says because even moderate floods - including those on the weekend - cause so much disruption, the government should build better roads and evacuation routes.
He also suggested restricting development on the floodplain to keep people safe.
"There have been many damaging floods that did not involve floodwaters coming past Warragamba Dam," Pittock said.
"They shouldn't proceed with raising the dam wall. The key is to stop building suburbs in flood-prone areas."