Remember when Sydney's dams weren't filled to the brim?

Posted by barbara on March 3, 2012

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Back in 2004, the water level in the Cordeaux Dam (pictured here), one of a suite of dams including Cataract, Avon and Nepean, was a cause for concern, and water rationing was the flavour of the month throughout greater Sydney.

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Raining it might be in this family snap, but saving water - as in shower with a friend and obeying stringent restrictions on hosing gardens and cars - were in force.

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As the dam levels dwindled, the 'bare bones' of the deep sandstone gorges that attracted the attention of engineers are revealed.

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The quaint architecture reflects the fact that the Cataract was the first dam constructed on the Upper Nepean River, way back in 1907, seven years before the First World War. At the time it was 'the largest engineering project ever undertaken in Australia and the fourth largest in the world'.

On 28 January 2010, just over a century later, the $1.896 billion Kurnell desalination plant came on line, providing water for an estimated 15% of Sydney and increasing Sydneysider's electricity bills.

In early March 2012, two years later, the desal plant output is halved as the Warragamba Dam spills for the first time in 14 years.

Water water everywhere, courtesy of a last gasp La Nina.

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