Where's the high water mark for Wyangala MKII?

Some of the Reids Flat landholders who will be affected by the proposal to raise the Wyangala Dam Wall gathered this week to air their concerns. In a recent downpour water lapped the white fence in the background.
Some of the Reids Flat landholders who will be affected by the proposal to raise the Wyangala Dam Wall gathered this week to air their concerns. In a recent downpour water lapped the white fence in the background.

Unanswered questions dominate the concerns of Reids Flat farmers who stand to lose their most productive country should the Wyangala Dam wall be raised.

They say their only community consultation sessions hosted by WaterNSW on September 16 verged on absurd, in that fundamental information about the project was not available.

Government representatives were asked where the new inundation line would fall on properties. There was no answer.

John Webster, whose pastoral company stands to lose almost 500 hectares of developed river flats should the wall be raised, said he originally found out about the project in October 2018 on social media.

Mr Webster later heard the project had been "fast tracked", but was yet to be notified his land would be affected.

The government in November last year passed legislation allowing critical water infrastructure projects to be treated as state significant priorities.

In just weeks work will begin on moving Reflections Holiday Park out of harm's way.

That is apparently the first major work in preparation for the raising of the dam wall by 10 metres.

The project seems politically predestined to go ahead if announcements are anything to go by.

On Sunday Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Michael McCormack said the federal government had decided to chip in $325 million for the project.

The total cost is put at $650 million.

A spokesman for WaterNSW said stage one would begin next month, being the relocation of the caravan park, which would then become "temporary accommodation" for workers extending the dam wall.

David and Lou Crawford have more than 3000ha that spans either side of the Lachlan River. They have a home on one side with sealed road access that is passable during flood events, but the majority of their land is on the other side. They're looking at being cut off. The biggest frustration, says Mr Crawford, is a lack of consultation.

"The modelling is not finished and so there is nothing you can fight against with facts," he said.

Hovell's Creek Landcare Group chairman Gordon Refshauge said there were a dozen endangered species living in the Reids Flat area, including the superb parrot.

Dr Refshauge said it was ironic years of work by Landcare and land currently under biodiversity conservation agreements would be flooded.

Michael and Jane Corkhill, Dryburgh, stand to lose their home, an 800-tonne grain complex and a 1000-bale hay shed.

Flooding three weeks ago came close, but with the dam wall raised Mr Corkhill reckons the 1928 home will be inundated, as will highly productive river flats and infrastructure

The big question for the seven major landholders to be affected is who will benefit from this project.

Consensus among them at an ad hoc meeting on Monday was that it would be corporate irrigators and mining companies.

John Webster's father, David, has spent his life working country around Reids Flat and witnessed the construction of Wyangala Dam.

He said while there will be major agricultural holdings affected there were many small blocks that will be inundated.

Asked for a response to landholders' concerns WaterNSW said extensive research suggested great support locally for the project.

A spokesman for WaterNSW said it had met with more than 65 landholders to provide information about the project.

"WaterNSW has discussed with landholders preliminary information about the partial inundation of properties in this area," the spokesman said.

"Investigation work and modelling to provide more detailed information about the inundation levels for individual properties is continuing.

"WaterNSW has met with most impacted landholders and encourages people to contact the project team if they have any questions."