Voice of Real Australia: One flood debacle too many in the Hawkebsury

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The new "flood-free" Windsor bridge under flood water on Wednesday. Picture by Sarah Falson.

The new "flood-free" Windsor bridge under flood water on Wednesday. Picture by Sarah Falson.

The worst flooding around North Richmond, Richmond and Windsor in 50 years has highlighted the failure of all levels of government to provide the Hawkesbury's growing communities with flood-free road infrastructure.

Horror floods aren't something new in the Hawkesbury, north west of Sydney.

The first European settlers arrived on the river in the early 1790s and started farming on its fertile floodplains. Their farms disappeared under flood waters in 1799.

Regular dunkings kept coming including the huge flood of 1867 which claimed 20 lives including 12 members of the Eather family.

These floodplains are now largely occupied by turf farms, many of which are now part of a giant inland lake.

Also under that same lake is the new $100 million Windsor bridge whose construction was bitterly opposed by many locals for more than a decade.

State and local government politicians had "sold" the new bridge as offering a flood-free access. So much for that promise!

Many promises have also been made about a new bridge over the Hawkesbury between North Richmond and Richmond.

The present two-lane bridge was opened in 1905 and has been closed for days by every major flood in the river including the present one.

Worse still, the bridge forms a major part of a bottleneck which has turned traffic congestion in Richmond and North Richmond into a daily nightmare for motorists.

Despite this, Hawkesbury Council keeps approving new housing subdivisions west of the Hawkesbury around North Richmond.

Anybody with even a partially-functioning brain realises a new bypass around the two towns, including new river crossing, is needed and as soon as possible.

The $200m promised by the federal government along with a much smaller contribution from the state government to solve the North Richmond bridge dilemma is hardly likely to provide the kind of road infrastructure needed to end the Hawkesbury's traffic chaos.

But first everybody would have to agree on the best solution to the problem which no doubt will take more years of fighting.

Meanwhile, some senior politicians in the state government have been arguing that raising the wall of Warragamba dam, Sydney's main source of drinking water, would help ease flooding downstream in the Hawkesbury Valley.

The price tag of that little piece of infrastructure would be upwards of $1.3 billion. Cue yet another long and noisy debate.

That money would be better spent giving Hawkesbury residents a road and bridge network which is genuinely flood free and meets the traffic needs of the growing Hawkesbury communities.

They deserve it after putting up with the present situation for decades.

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