All five spillway gates open at Wivenhoe Dam.
All five spillway gates open at Wivenhoe Dam.

Plan to keep dam at 75% capacity

A PLAN to release a year’s worth of water from the Wivenhoe Dam to mitigate future flooding has been met with questions over why such a move was not done earlier.

The State Opposition said it supported the plan, which would see 25 per cent of the dam’s water released, but said it should have been done before January’s devastating floods.

The current release has been made because more rain is predicted for the region until April, but Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said the Government had received similar warnings in October last year.

He said releases should have been made back then, and called on the State Government to release its flood modelling.

“It’s also important for us to get the modelling released that will show exactly what happened or what would have happened if Wivenhoe had been lowered to 75 per cent,” Mr Langbroek said.

Seqwater recommended the 290,000-megalitre release in the wake of January’s devastating floods in Ipswich.

Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson said the dam needed the release to ease the risk of further flooding, with forecasts predicting heavy rain until April.

The dam’s role in last month’s flooding is a key focus of the Commission of Inquiry into the disaster.

Some critics have claimed that had there been more water released from the dam before the worst of the rain, up to 20,000 properties might not have been inundated.

Member for Ipswich West, Wayne Wendt and Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller both backed the planned release.

Mr Wendt said residents would be unhappy with the impact the current release plan would have on Colleges Crossing, which was expected to shut for nine days.

However, he said he had asked if releases could be made without necessitating the closure.

Meanwhile Ipswich City Councillor Paul Tully said the flood mitigation capacity of the dam was more important than keeping it at 100 per cent for drinking water.

He said the 75 per cent level should be a permanent arrangement.

“This initiative should be made a permanent feature of the management of Wivenhoe Dam,” he said.

The releases are planned to start next weekend and will last for nine days.

The strong La Nina event that caused Queensland’s wild summer weather has passed its peak, but the wet weather is not over.

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