AS anti-dam campaigners continue to undertake critical research to protect Cliefden Caves against inundation from the Belubula River, they have asked for more donations.
Save Cliefden Caves Association secretary Harrison Burkitt said while the group had never found itself in dire need of funding, the call-out last week had already received a positive response.
“The last year has seen 6,000 people sign up for email updates and over 150 generous individuals donate to the campaign, allowing us to fund vital scientific research on the caves,” he said.
“These donations have also allowed us to recruit new supporters on our social media pages and website, strengthening our call for the protection of Cliefden’s unique caves, fossils and ecosystems.”
Mr Burkitt said a public meeting was planned for Cowra in the near future to include landowners, which had become even more important since the group discovered the two proposed Cranky Rock dams could cause the water level at Needles Gap to rise by up to 50 metres and inundate the caves to a higher level than the original Needles Gap dam proposed by member for Calare John Cobb last year.
Association vice-president and University of Sydney Associate Professor Armstrong Osborne said mapping had revealed the caves were lower, with a more complex network than first thought.
“The work is very important because we still don’t have a good understanding of how the groundwater works and how the caves connect up with it,” he said.
He said work was ongoing to link surface features with cave features underground, as well as analysing the rare crystal formations, and a report would be compiled by mid-next year.
A WaterNSW spokeswoman said investigations were ongoing, exploring social, economic and environmental impacts of any new dam, as well as technical feasibility and value for money.
“The next stage of investigations by WaterNSW commenced recently, and will involve studies to assess the engineering feasibility, preliminary environmental assessments, a cost-benefit analysis and community consultation,” she said.