Rob Williams

Year's supply to go from Wivenhoe

A YEAR’S supply of drinking water will be released from the Wivenhoe Dam from this weekend to mitigate against further flooding this year.

The massive release, about 25 per cent of the dam’s drinking water capacity, will be spread across nine days.

Officials claim the 290,000 megalitre release will not see homes or properties flooded, but it is expected to see Colleges Crossing closed for at least nine days.

Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson, who announced the plan yesterday, said heavy rain was forecast for the region until April and the release was a necessary precaution.

“While we can’t be certain about what rain is yet to come in this wet season, this measure reflects an abundance of caution,” he said.

“Seqwater has advised that a reduction in Wivenhoe’s Dam storage level to 75 per cent of its full supply level provides appreciable flood mitigation benefits ahead of any major rain events in the remainder of the wet season.”

About 2.6 million megalitres of water flowed into the Somerset-Wivenhoe system in January’s floods, more than double that of 1974.

The role dam operators played in the lead-up to last month’s floods will be investigated by the State Government’s commission of inquiry.

Many have claimed releases like the one announced yesterday should have been made before the January floods.

Seqwater chief executive Peter Borrows said it was difficult to say whether a 25 per cent release would stop a flood similar to the one in January – but guessed it was “extremely unlikely”.

SEQ Water Grid manager, chief executive officer Barry Dennien said he had advised Seqwater a reduction to 75 per cent would be manageable from a water security perspective.

He said the January floods also filled Wyaralong Dam, now full five years earlier than expected, meaning it now stores 103,000 megalitres which is able to be connected to the water grid when required.

“With Wyaralong full, other dams full around the region and the grid in place, Wivenhoe Dam can be operated at a lower level for the rest of the wet season without impacting on water security,” Mr Dennien said.

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