Wiradjuri people voice concerns over Lithgow pumped hydro

pumped hydro (lithgow)

EnergyAustralia’s plan for a pumped hydro project near Lithgow west of the Blue Mountains has alarmed local Indigenous communities about the impacts it could have on culturally important land at Mount Walker, ABC News reported.

EnergyAustralia plans to build and operate a pumped hydro dam on Mount Walker at Lake Lyell near Lithgow, which would include a 4.4GL concrete reservoir with walls up to 40m high.

Related article: Residents say pumped hydro station could threaten platypus population

Local Wiradjuri man Adrian Williams said Mount Walker’s vantage point as one of the highest peaks in the district made it a culturally important site for traditional men’s business.

“If anybody was coming through here and set up camp you would see within 20 to 30 kilometres if a campfire went up we would know if someone was moving through the area,” he told ABC News.

Williams said it would destroy the cultural and environmentally significant site.

“It’s gonna be knocking down a heap of trees, it’s going to alter the landscape, and it’s going to alter the energy of the area,” he said.

Residents also have concerns about the project becoming an “eyesore” on Mount Walker and the impact of a potential power station on the dam’s recreational features and the local platypus population.

Residents were also concerned the project could impact the local platypus population. 

Former veterinarian and Lake Lyell resident Rob White said the fluctuations in the lake’s water flow would be devastating for platypus. 

“An Olympic swimming pool of water will be pumped out every 25 seconds for twelve hours and then it will be coming back into the lake every 16 seconds for eight hours, which creates a washing-machine effect for the lake,” he told ABC News.

“It is going to create turbulence. All the water stratification, oxygenation, temperature; all of those things are going to affect the ecology of the lake. 

“But the fact the water levels of the lake are going down and up regularly means that anything that uses the lake for feeding is going to be impacted.

Related article: Batteries of gravity and water: we found 1,500 new pumped hydro sites next to existing reservoirs

“The platypus is not classified as endangered, but it is certainly very close to being endangered, so having a good population of them here is important. 

“This is not going to be good for them.” 

In a statement, EnergyAustralia said the project was not finalised and it would continue its community consultation.

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