February 10, 2020
Sunwater has responded to claims work will begin soon to “demolish” Paradise Dam.
In a media statement last week, the LNP said Labor had moved amendments in Parliament that would allow it “to commence demolition of the dam without obtaining any of the usual council or environmental approvals – sweeping aside 17 separate pieces of legislation”.
“It’s unacceptable that Labor only has a plan to tear down the dam and no plan to fix it,” LNP Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said.
LNP Member for Bundaberg David Batt questioned “what Labor knew and when”.
“Given Labor has known about these safety issues since 2015, why is Labor ramming this through now? Building Queensland is about to hand down its report on the dam. We should be able to see that report before Labor starts tearing down this dam,” he said.
And LNP Member for Callide Colin Boyce accused the State Government of arrogance.
“Labor is rushing to pull down Paradise Dam right after it dumped thousands of litres from the dam into the ocean in the middle of a drought,” he said.
However, Sunwater said on Monday the dam was not being “demolished”.
A spokesperson said the urgent need to improve the stability of the dam was announced last September.
“This requires the dam wall to be lowered by five metres as a short-term, interim measure to improve the safety of the community living below the dam.
“A legislative amendment … allows for this work to start before the 2020-21 wet season. It also ensures the timeframes announced in September last year can be met.
“This short-term work is only the first step in rectifying the issues with the dam. The long-term future of the dam will be determined by a Building Queensland report, which is currently under way. This was also announced in September last year.
“Sunwater has been engaging with customers and the community since the announcement about the importance of lowering the Paradise Dam wall.
“We reached this conclusion after extensive studies conducted over a number of years following the 2013 flood event and as part of our ongoing dam management program.
“Our assessment has been supported by 13 national and international technical experts.
“We cannot ignore the clear evidence. We must act.
“Sunwater recognises the impact the decision to lower the dam wall has had on the community and their interest in long-term water security.
“The decision was not taken lightly but had to be made in the interests of safety.
“Sunwater is aware stakeholders are undertaking their own research into Paradise Dam and in fact facilitated a tour of the dam by the expert last week.
“Stakeholders have submitted a request for further information and Sunwater is reviewing that request in line with ‘Right to Information’ legislation.
“Sunwater continues to provide water for customers.
“In addition to Paradise Dam, the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme is supplied by Fred Haigh Dam, Ned Churchward Weir, Bucca Weir, Ben Anderson Barrage and Kolan Barrage.
“There is enough water in Paradise Dam and other storages within the scheme to meet 2019-20 water allocations.
“High priority water customers will have all of their allocation in 2020-21.
“Sunwater is working with customers and the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to investigate options to maximise allocations for medium priority customers across the region.
“Announced allocations for the next water year will be confirmed in July.
“Sunwater continues to engage with local councils, the community and other stakeholders to clearly and effectively communicate the issues related to Paradise Dam.
“We will commence work to lower the dam wall by 5 meters as an interim risk reduction as soon as practical, in line with our obligations.”
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UPDATE February 11:
Sunwater has begun releasing more water from Paradise Dam following recent inflows from the surrounding catchment.
The dam reached 42 per cent capacity on Monday.
The water released will be stored downstream in Ned Churchward Weir and Ben Anderson Barrage, which have a combined 19,000 megalitres of capacity available.
Further inflows are expected over the coming days and Sunwater is closely monitoring both the dam and wider catchment.