The Guardian, Australian Associated Press, 17 June 2016.

A dam wall in one of New South Wales’s biggest flood-risk regions will be raised to prevent a catastrophe.

That commitment by the state government comes amid fears Sydney’s Warragamba dam could spill by Sunday with severe storms forecast to hit at the weekend.

Construction to raise the dam wall by 14 metres is estimated to cost $690m, and the state government will release $58m in next week’s budget towards the first phase of the project, the premier, Mike Baird, announced on Friday.

“The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley has been identified as having the greatest flood risk in NSW, which poses a serious danger to life and property in western Sydney,” Baird said.

The $58m budget funding package will be used to undertake detailed concept designs, environmental assessments and preparation of the full business case to raise the wall.

Money will also be set aside to “increase community flood risk awareness, create evacuation signage, improve flood forecasting and integrate the flood risk management with regional planning”.

WaterNSW was monitoring Warragamba dam in light of a Bureau of Meteorology forecast for a significant rain event in coming days, a spokesman said.

The dam was 97.7% full and it was possible heavy rain in the dam’s catchment could result in flooding, he said.

Spills are not unusual at Warragamba dam, which last spilled in late August 2015.