News

Tens of thousands in damage after Wivenhoe Dam release

Fernvale residents Murray Jensen and Tom Wilkinson are angered by the recent dam releases. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times
Fernvale residents Murray Jensen and Tom Wilkinson are angered by the recent dam releases. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times Inga Williams

FARMERS and business owners are counting the cost of the recent Wivenhoe Dam releases, which flooded important infrastructure and washed away large sections of river bank.

Some are claiming tens of thousands of dollars in losses due to damage or disruption.

Although Seqwater argues the rapid draining down of Wivenhoe Dam was necessary to prepare for a possible follow-up flood, those affected by the Brisbane River torrent don't seem to be seeing it that way.

Irrigators like Murray Jensen and Tom Wilkinson say the release could have been slowed down considerably to reduce the impact on landholders downstream.

They are what you might call the collateral damage of the new Government policy on dam management.

A cluster of irrigators along the Brisbane River below Wivenhoe Dam are in prime position to bear the brunt of any water that is released from the storage during times of heavy rain.

Needless to say, they were devastated by the 2011 and 2013 floods, and on the first weekend of May, it happened again.

Not that last week's rain was anything like that which hit south-east Queensland four years ago, but Seqwater's new policy on maintaining the flood storage element of Wivenhoe Dam meant that a large amount of water was sent downstream from Friday through to Tuesday - leaving riverside property owners fuming.

Releases from Wivenhoe into the Brisbane River peaked at 1000 cumecs (cubic metres per second, or 86,400 mL per day) from May 2-3.

To put the volume of water into perspective, it takes a release of only about 177 cumecs to flood Colleges Crossing.

Irrigators claim that as a result, they needlessly lost thousands of dollars worth of pumps, infrastructure, and land.

Mid Brisbane River Irrigators member Tom Wilkinson said this was the fourth time dam releases had caused damage in as many years.

"By the time they let the water out of the dam, the rain was pretty much gone," Mr Wilkinson said.

"Surely they could have released the water at a much slower rate.

"Peter Dennis (Seqwater CEO) said himself that the majority of the flood storage of Wivenhoe was still available at the time the water was released."

It wasn't just farmers affected. Zanow Sand and Gravel CEO Darren Zanow estimates his company's losses from flooding to quarries at up to $40,000.

"Worst of all it's a needless, over-the-top discharge that has done it to us," Mr Zanow said.

Fernvale farmer Murray Jensen was only just able to salvage his $10,000 pump before it was flooded, but there was no saving the estimated two acres of his farmland that went crashing into the river as a result of the torrent.

Further upstream at Wivenhoe Pocket, grasstree grower Michael Brown estimated the damage bill at about $20,000, including two wrecked pumps and bank erosion.

While apologising to irrigators, Seqwater will not accept any responsibility for damage caused by flood releases.

An Seqwater spokeswoman said the strategy for Somerset and Wivenhoe was changed last year to reduce flooding in urban areas.

The dam manual states that the reason for reducing the levels back to 100% as soon as possible after heavy rain is because there is an 8-11% chance of a follow-up flood within seven days.

"It is important to empty the dam of floodwater after a flood has peaked so that the flood storage compartment remains available to manage inflows if another flood occurs," she said.

"Heavy rain systems can roll in very quickly, even when the forecast is for fine weather. We are required to comply with the Manual of Operational Procedures for Flood Mitigation at Wivenhoe Dam and Somerset Dam."

At the same time, the dam manual also states that the drain-down period may be stretched out - in order to reduce the flood impact downstream - if there is a favourable weather outlook.

Mr Zanow said the scales had clearly been tipped "too far the other way" since the controversy that followed the 2011 floods.

"I rang Seqwater on Saturday to ask what was going on," Mr Zanow said.

"They actually told me that they were releasing that much water so that people could get to work on Monday.

"I thought that was very strange.

"At the end of the day, a bit of common sense needs to come into the decision-making process."

Topics:  brisbane river irrigators seqwater wivenhoe dam



Last-gasp goal saves Ipswich team's Pride

Western Pride goal scorer Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

Substitute stars for draw specialists

Crash debris shut down motorway

Police say vehicle was travelling wrong way

10 jobs you can apply for right now

Job seekers read the job advertisements on large boards at the Ipswich Showgrounds where the Australian Government Jobs and Skills Expo was held today (140613). Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

Plenty on offer from across the region

Local Partners

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor split after 17 years

BEN Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor have called it a day in a joint announcement.

Why The Voice hasn't produced a star

Boy George responds to Brittania Clifford-Pugh's heart-warming message.

It's the industry, not the show, says Boy George

These actors hated their movies and didn’t mind admitting it

Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans in a scene from GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Every year, Hollywood blesses us with plenty of God awful movies.

Miranda Kerr and fiance hang up backyard tent for wedding

The decorators and caterers are arriving for the final preparations for the wedding of Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel. Pictures: Splash

Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr are set to marry today

Book review: Mia Freedman's book meets her critics head on

I appreciated Freedman's blunt honesty in the book

Home town support spurs on Ipswich chef

CONTENDER: Judges have praised the work of Ipswich cook Ben Ungermann, who has avoided the dreaded elimination rounds.

Ben gets a little sweeter

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Report reveals progress on $319m airport upgrade

Aerials of the Sunshine Coast.Jetstar plane in front of the Susnhine Coast terminal, Sunshine Coast Airport.

Over two dozen government approvals needed for airport expansion

Lost dough leaves sour taste after company collapse

Kathleen and John Mahoney from Sugar and Spice Bakery were stung after the collapse of Cantro Pty Ltd and are still owed money.

Supermarket operator collapse leaves sour taste for bakery

'Ridiculous': Council refuses renovation at heritage home

NOT FAIR: Karen Solomon of Newtown is angry with Ipswich City Council for refusing her plans to build a colonial style double car port at her Newtown home.

Council rejected development application

Council refusal of 'high density' development ends in court

Ipswich City Council first meeting with the new 2016 council.

Developer took the matter to the Queensland Planning Court

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!