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



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

It's official, Christmas has started in Ipswich

TIS THE SEASON: Plenty of families got into the holiday spirit at the Christmas Twilight Parade.

PHOTOS: Annual Twilight Parade draws hundreds, more events to come

Serious injury experiences that may help you

Former Ipswich footballer and elite masters athlete Darrin Norwood knows how to overcome challenges.

Ipswich all-rounders recover from knee surgery

Check out these handy recovery tips

Ipswich Knights footballer Adam O'Sullivan receives immediate treatment after suffering a serious knee injury.

Wise advice when dealing with serious injury

Local Partners

FLOOD RISK: Mayors launch plan to protect $260M industry

A COMPREHENSIVE plan to deal with the flood risk to rivers and lakes in the Lockyer Valley has been launched.


It's official, Christmas has started in Ipswich

TIS THE SEASON: Plenty of families got into the holiday spirit at the Christmas Twilight Parade.

PHOTOS: Annual Twilight Parade draws hundreds, more events to come

What's on this weekend

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

Things to do in Ipswich

Five things to do this weekend

Renee Schulz, Brad Baxter, Elizabeth Mills and Nathan Schulz prepare for the Marburg Church of Christ Christmas Carols.
Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

Your guide to what's on in Ipswich

Jennifer Lawrence gives keys to new partner

Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence

Oscar winner settling down with new partner

Rogue One star proud to lead new Star Wars film

Felicity Jones leads the new Star Wars film

Star Wars lead proud to be in front in sci-fi

What's on the small screen this week

Ernie Dingo stars in the TV series Going Places with Ernie Dingo.

ERNIE Dingo stars in a new travel series and Seven airs the AACTAs.

Mandy Moore feels like she's 60

Mandy Moore sees herself as a 60-year-old rather than a 32-year-old

Goooodbye Hamish and Andy (from our radios)

Hamish and Andy

The pair have been on air since 2006

David Attenborough on facing his mortality

Sir David Attenborough in a scene from the TV special The Death of the Oceans.

Life without Sir David Attenborough is hard to imagine

Chinese locked out of Australian property market

The rules are different if you're a foreigner

The buyer was from China - the trouble started right there

Morrison signs off on new affordable rental model

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Federal Financial Relations at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

Scott Morrison signed off on development of a new financing model

New 1200-seat Mormon church to open in Ipswich

COMMUNITY: Barbara MacDonald of Springfield Lakes with her children from left, Jacob, 6, Charlotte, 2, Joseph, 4, Emily, 9, and Lachlan, 8, outside the newly built Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at Augustine Heights.

One of Australia's largest Mormon churches will open this month

REVEALED: 25 of Ipswich's cheapest houses

8 Trumper St, East Ipswich, Offers above $230,000.

Old and neglected homes in hot demand with renovators

Coast high-flyer's fight back from bankruptcy, $72m debt

Scott Juniper went from millionaire developer to declaring bankruptcy in2012, now he is back on top of his game again with new developments including this one in Coolum.

'Apocalyptic lending storm' causes financial collapse.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!