Mayor Jack Dempsey has welcomed the release of the Paradise Dam technical reports and announcement of an independent inquiry in to its structural and stability issues.
The State Government released the statement today, appointing former Supreme Court judge John Byrne AO RFD to head the inquiry.
“It is pleasing to see the State Government has listened to the concerns of the community by making this information available to the public,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“In my opinion this is an approach which should have been taken from the start and will allow for greater transparency in to the decision making which led to the lowering of the dam’s spillway.
“We will certainly be reviewing this material and making a submission to the inquiry.”
Mayor Dempsey said it was still important for residents to support the Paradise Dam petition.
“I will continue to advocate for the reinstatement of the long-term water security which has been lost as a result of the lowering of Paradise Dam.
“Whilst the announcement is important, equally we need to ensure that our community doesn’t get distracted by playing the blame game but continues to focus on how we can return our region to its former position, in terms of water security, to provide confidence for investors in agriculture and maintain our national food bowl status.
“For that reason I ask the community to continue to support my Paradise Dam petition which is available online or in hardcopy at various locations including Council’s service centres.”
State Government says Paradise Dam technical reports show:
• issues with the bonds between each layer of roller compacted concrete in the dam wall
• risks to the dam wall in rare, major events like the 2013 cyclone and flood
• the need to act to lower water levels to minimise pressure on the dam wall.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the inquiry would take public submissions and the terms of reference would be released next week
“The Government has been listening to the Bundaberg community,” Dr Lynham said.
“We know they have questions, as we have questions.”
He said the Paradise Dam technical reports confirmed potential stability issues in the event of an extreme weather event and that it was safe now.
“However, they do confirm potential risk of major flooding if there is another extreme weather event like 2013 and this is why Sunwater made the decision to release water and lower Paradise Dam’s spillway by five metres.
“Sunwater has worked with the Bundaberg and North Burnett Regional Council, police and other agencies in the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) to ensure that emergency plans are in place to protect the community.
“The people of Bundaberg know about flooding.
“Their LDMG will have more notice than ever before and have the community well-prepared if, and when, an extreme weather event like 2013 happens again.
“The Inspector-General Emergency Management is currently conducting a review into disaster preparedness planning for the local community.
“The Government has always been primarily concerned with community safety.
“Sunwater’s advice is that reducing the volume of water in the dam reduces pressure on the dam wall and creates additional time for the dam to fill in an extreme weather event, and therefore extra time for any evacuations.”
University of Newcastle Pro-Vice Chancellor, Emeritus Professor John Carter, will provide technical advice.
The dam’s storage level has been progressively lowered over the past 10 weeks and it will reach its 42 per cent target level in the next few days.
Over 96 per cent of the water released has been stored in the Ben Anderson Barrage and Ned Churchward Weir or used productively, including by Bundaberg Regional Council and irrigators.
Dr Lynham said work continued on:
- reducing the dam spillway by five metres
- alternative water supply options, especially for irrigators
- Building Queensland’s detailed business case into long-term options for the dam.
View the Paradise Dam technical reports on SunWater's website.