Australian wildfires threaten Sydney water supplies

SYDNEY: Australian authorities said on Friday they are focused on protecting water plants, pumping stations, pipes and other infrastructure from intense bushfires surrounding Sydney, the country’s largest city.
Firefighters battling the blazes for weeks received a reprieve of slightly cooler, damper conditions over Christmas, but the respite is not expected to last long.
Temperatures in New South Wales (NSW) state are forecast to head back towards 40 degrees Celsius early next week, fuelling fires near Warragamba Dam, which provides water to about 80 per cent of Sydney’s 5 million residents.
“In recent days up to the cool change, the fires had been a potential threat to supply and assets, particularly in Warragamba and in the Blue Mountains,” a spokesman for the state’s water authority, WaterNSW, said.
“With the coming very hot conditions the fire situation may escalate in both those fronts and possibly elsewhere.”
Warragamba Dam is located 65 km west of Sydney, catching water flowing from the mountains. It is at 44.8 per cent capacity, down from almost being full less than three years ago, as a prolonged drought ravages the continent’s east.
Despite the widespread destruction, the state’s water infrastructure network has not been damaged, the spokesman said.— Reuters