Midwest residents slam proposed hydroelectric project over platypus documentation

A proposed pumped-power hydroelectric plant on a west-central lake has been criticized by local residents concerned about the platypus in the area.

Energy Australia is proposing to pump water from Lake Lyell, near Lithgow, to a reservoir yet to be built on the adjacent Mount Walker.

The water would then be released down the mountain into Lake Lyell, generating electricity in the process.

According to Energy Australia, the station will power 150,000 homes during peak periods.

The proposed hydroelectric plant would see water pumped between Lake Lyell and Mount Walker, depending on demand. (Supplied: Energy Australia )

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

“The water in an Olympic swimming pool will be pumped every 25 seconds for twelve hours, then it will return to the lake every 16 seconds for eight hours, creating a washing machine effect for the lake,” he said. -he declares.

“It’s 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 that water levels in the lake are steadily falling and rising means that anything that uses the lake for food is going to be impacted.”

Platypus in danger

A platypus swims in the water.
The conservation status of the platypus is considered “near threatened”. (Provided)

The proposed site for the pumps and generator is in a part of the lake called Farmer’s Creek.

Mr White said it was home to the majority of the lake’s platypus population and so they would suffer the most.

“Farmer’s Creek Arm is where the actual pumping and pumping for this project is being offered, so it’s right in the house where a lot of them live,” Mr White said.

“The platypus is not listed as endangered, but it’s certainly very close to it, so it’s important to have a good population of them here.

The exact number of platypus in the lake has yet to be determined, but Mr White, who has spent the last month documenting them, said it was a “healthy number”.

A platypus swimming on the surface of the water in a river.
Energy Australia says it is working to ensure the project does not affect aquatic life. (Supplied: Australian Platypus Conservancy)

Concerns for tourism

Mr White believes the project will have huge implications for the tourism industry in the Lithgow area.

“Anyone camping by the lake can potentially lie down at night in a full lake and wake up in the morning to find their boats high and dry as the water level drops, so from a recreational perspective , it’s disastrous,” he said.

Sunrise over the bush and a river
Energy Australia said it would continue to work with the community to resolve their issues.(Provided: Chris Lithgow )

Energy Australia responds

In a statement, Energy Australia said the project was not finalized and it would continue to consult with the community about their concerns.

“Much remains to be done as we work through feasibility studies, planning approvals and environmental impact assessments, which will investigate a range of topics including the protection of aquatic wildlife,” said said a spokesperson.

“Our work continues with the community to understand their perspective on the project and how it can be improved.

“Any project we do has to be good for the environment and good for people.”

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