• Tony Bosworth

Raising Warragamba Dam wall “gives false comfort” – insurance chief

A timely story here from our friends at Insurance News. Will raising the Dam wall protect us from future devastating floods?

Raising the height of the Warragamba Dam wall would not resolve issues created by land use failings that have increased flood risks in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, Insurance Council of Australia CEO Andrew Hall says.

“The reality is the money that we would spend on raising the Warragamba Dam wall, we probably should think about spending on claiming back some areas that never should have been developed in western Sydney,” he told the ICA Annual Industry Forum last week.

Mr Hall says there are no simple answers to legacy planning issues, many of which date back decades and others only a few years, and communities face difficult conversations.

“Even if we do raise the dam wall, that should never give false comfort because dam walls overtop no matter how big you build a dam."

Commissioner of Resilience NSW Shane Fitzsimmons said a survey last catastrophe season found many people in the region were unaware they were in a flood plain, while often residents in disaster prone areas in the state don’t personalise risks, particularly if an event hasn’t recently occurred.

“You still have this massive legacy of decisions on development that if you could turn back time, you would seriously re-evaluate,” he said.

Mr Fitzsimmons says the insurance industry has a responsibility to ensure people are not inadvertently underinsured, given changes to building codes and standards that have increased rebuilding costs.

Resilience NSW is supporting the ICA in pushing for agreements to facilitate cross border movement of insurance personnel to assist with recoveries after any disasters this summer.

Mr Fitzsimmons says work has been undertaken to allow the movement of first responders across borders and the issue regarding insurance assessors and repairers has been raised with federal counterparts.

“It is front of mind,” he said. “The other dimension around relief and recovery and support in response to those disasters is also being worked on at the moment.”

Hawkesbury insurance case study:

Windsor's Scott Hinks has had his insurance renewal turned down (see left) because of flood risk. It is an increasing problem in the flood-prone Hawkesbury and was brought into sharp relief following the devastating March floods.

“If governments do not manage flood mitigation and insurance companies fail to provide adequate insurance to Hawkesbury residents, will the flow on affect be residents and businesses leaving the region on mass?”, asks Mr Hinks.

The Warragamba Dam raising project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is currently on public exhibition and you can make submissions until November 12. Here’s the link:


Main story republished courtesy of Insurance News.

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