Wivenhoe spill to stop this week

Wivenhoe Dam spillway.
Wivenhoe Dam spillway. Rob Williams

WIVENHOE Dam will stop releasing water through its spill gates later this week for the first time since January 7.

Yesterday morning the dam was at 123 per cent capacity and dropping, with releases of about 299,000 megalitres per day being passed through its gates.

News of the gate-closing comes after an engineer publicly criticised dam operaters for not releasing enough water from the Wivenhoe before last Monday's monster deluge.

The continued dam releases have also frustrated motorists who travel between Ipswich and Brisbane over the Brisbane River, with Colleges Crossing, the Kholo bridge and the Moggill Ferry closed since releases started.

Last week's devastating disaster flooded and also damaged the Mt Crosby weir crossing off Allawah Road, meaning Jindalee was the next nearest place for motorists to cross the river.

A spokesperson for the dam said the river crossings will no longer be inundated when releases stop this week, but Ipswich City Council has no date for when Colleges Crossing might reopen.

“The continuing releases are necessary in order to prepare Wivenhoe for any future weather events should they occur,” a SEQWater Grid manager said.

“Releases should cease from Wivenhoe Dam mid-week.

“Releases are being made in consultation with the Bureau of Meteorology and local councils, and every effort is being made to limit downstream impacts.”

Engineer Michael O'Brien this week said river flooding was inevitable after a decision to release relatively low volumes of water from the Wivenhoe Dam on Friday, January 7, and over the ensuing weekend.

He said over that weekend the dam's operators released a total of about 200,000 megalitres.

Mr O'Brien claimed scrutiny of official water-release and dam volume data shows the flood would have been moderate at worst in Brisbane had there been larger releases in the days before the deluge.

But SEQWater Grid chief executive Barry Dennien has insisted that although the January 8-9 releases were relatively low compared with what occurred in the days afterwards, this was in accordance with the operating manual to mitigate flooding.

He said nobody had foreseen the extreme rainfall that hit the region last week.

Premier Anna Bligh has announced an independent Commission of Inquiry to examine the recent flood disaster, with an international dam expert to examine the role of the Wivenhoe.

The Somerset Dam is currently at 100 per cent with small discharges through the cone valves into Wivenhoe.

All recreations areas around both dams are closed.

Water has spilled from Wyaralong Dam after it exceeded 100 per cent capacity last week.

The Bremer River flood level as of yesterday was at 7.98m.

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