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Peter Stubbs is expecting a backlash on safety, environmental and economic grounds over plans to increase the capacity of Lake Argyle.
But the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project director believes it is important for critics to look at the big picture.
Mr Stubbs said the development of 100,000 hectares for agriculture represented a tiny corner of the Kimberley and Northern Territory.
“It is the equivalent of 10 big farms in the Wheatbelt,” he said.
“It’s important to keep in perspective that the Kimberley is a huge land mass and we are seeking to develop a very small portion.”
Mr Stubbs said development was carefully regulated with the 7400ha Goomig site, where Kimberley Agricultural Investments has started clearing land, subject to an 11,500ha environmental buffer zone.
He also moved to put into perspective plans to increase the volume of water in Lake Argyle by the equivalent of 10 Sydney Harbours by building a bigger barrier across Spillway Creek, one of four spillways built at staggered heights to protect the main dam wall.
“In 2011, the dam was at 205 per cent full — it is considered full at 10,670gl, we had 21,000gl.
We had 9m of water running over Spillway Creek,” he said.
“The fourth spillway doesn’t kick in until you get to 38,000gl — Lake Argyle has to be about 400 per cent full before that last spillway even gets activated.”
Mr Stubbs said he was convinced the plan would work because it had been done before.
A wall was built in Spillway Creek in 1996 to double the volume of the lake as part of the hydroelectricity development.
Many critics consider the Ord irrigation scheme a white elephant but Mr Stubbs said the government investment in creating Lake Argyle and the irrigation scheme had paid for itself many times over in agricultural and tourism value.