A DAM at Cranky Rock may not be the only water security solution as the state government calls for help from prospective dam builders to start the second round of investigations, but the Save Cliefden Caves Association has called for continued focus on environmental impacts.
The government has called for expressions of interest and will work with potential tenderers so they can understand the project and recommend a methodology during the tender process.
Southern NSW parliamentary secretary Katrina Hodgkinson said investigations would involve feasibility studies and a cost-benefit analysis to calculate the Lachlan region’s water needs more accurately and identify how a dam could be used with other options to meet water security needs.
“Options to be explored involve using new or existing infrastructure or changes to water delivery in conjunction with a dam to establish the most effective solution for water security,” she said.
A WaterNSW spokesman said funding availability would also be considered.
“While the caves and other environmental assets will be important factors for consideration, social and economic factors of the potential solutions will also be assessed,” he said.
The scoping study released last year recommended Abercrombie or Wyangala dams if impacts on Cliefden Caves were found at Cranky Rock or Needles Gap, but WaterNSW did not answer questions on whether geological studies had been carried out or whether a prospective tenderer would consider the two back-up options.
Save Cliefden Caves Association secretary Harrison Burkitt said protecting the caves and fossils needed to be the priority.
“Current research is showing that unusual cave minerals have been deposited in the caves in times past, along with six different species of bats inhabiting the area, two of which are listed as threatened,” he said.
“The NSW government needs to rule out any dam that would have an adverse impact on the Cliefden Caves and its surrounding features once and for all.”
Mr Burkitt said the group was seeking a meeting with WaterNSW.
Expressions of interest close in March.