A radical proposal to quadruple the size of Burrinjuck Dam was floated at a NSW Upper House hearing on Wednesday.
The hearing, held in Griffith, is part of an investigation into the state’s handling of water resources and gave irrigators, businesses and public servants a chance to have their say on the matter.
Griffith Business Chamber president Paul Pierotti said raising the dam wall could protect the region from extreme climate events such as drought or last year’s floods and could be cost-neutral if it incorporated a hydro-electricity generator.
“We see this as a real triple-bottom line benefit for people, profit and planet,” Mr Pierotti said.
“No-one would ever need more water after this.”
The comments come just weeks after a massive heatwave saw the state’s power grid stretched to its limits because gas-fired power plants failed to come online.
“This create enough baseload from hydroelectricity that it would eradicate the need for coal-fired power plants,” Mr Pierotti said.
“We believe it would be cost-neutral to the taxpayer because significant money would come in from power generation.
“It would create very little disruption to the environment and allow better water management for the future; when it was developed 100 years ago it suited that time but we need to look forward and the entire underpinning of the Australian economy will be locally-grown food and fibre.”
“I really want the average irrigator to be able to understand the whole water issue,” Councillor Dal Broi said.
“The water trading rules, carry over rules, supplementary water rules are all so complex, you nearly have to be a professor to understand them all.”