Paradise Dam Total Fiasco

We called it about the Queensland State Government. You like this sort of thing then keep voting for them. Paradise Dam legislation has been rushed through depriving people of much needed water. Read on, we didnt make this up. https://peterlrogers.com/queensland-you-cannot-make-this-up/

Paradise Dam amendments rushed through Queensland Parliament sparking outrage

Brown flood water rushes over the spillway at Paradise Dam near BundabergPHOTO: The State Government says an event similar to the 2013 floods would place the Paradise Dam wall at significant risk. (Flickr: srv007)

Work to reduce the height of the spillway at Australia’s second-newest dam will begin next month after the Queensland Government controversially rushed a package of amendments through Parliament this week.

Key points:

  • The State Government passed amendments to remove the need for multiple levels of approval before works start
  • Stakeholders and the Opposition are angry about the lack of consultation and transparency
  • National Resources Minister Anthony Lynham has defended the changes, citing public safety concerns

The Government and dam operator Sunwater announced last September, 105,000 megalitres — the equivalent of 32,000 Olympic swimming pools — of water would be released from Paradise Dam near Bundaberg to reduce it to 42 per cent capacity for safety reasons.

Water releases finished in early December, with plans to permanently reduce the height of the dam’s spillway ahead of next wet season.

The amendments — which mean Sunwater will not be required to obtain any other approvals before reducing the height of the spillway by at least five metres — have divided the community, with supporters highlighting public safety concerns and opponents focusing on what it would mean for water security.

‘What’s the rush?’

LNP Member for Bundaberg David Batt opposed the amendments and said the changes eroded the parliamentary approval and committee process.

“Labor’s decision to ram through legislation to allow them to immediately start tearing down the Paradise Dam wall without any of the usual permits or environmental approvals tears down the parliamentary process with it … refusing a committee review, community consultation,” he said.

“We have incredible produce, incredible soil and, up until recently, we had incredible water security. That was until Labor decided to reduce Paradise dam to 42 per cent capacity with no real plan to reinstate the lost volume in future.

“What is the rush? Labor’s known about the issue since 2015 but suddenly the wall needs to come down right now.

“Why not wait until the commission of inquiry and the Building Queensland report are finalised in the next two months? Is there something those opposite aren’t telling us?”

In November, the Government announced an independent inquiry into the structural issues at the dam, after technical reports revealed the faults originated with its initial construction.

Former Supreme Court judge John Byrne will head the inquiry and report back to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Minister for Natural Resources, Anthony Lynham, by the end of April.

Infrastructure advisory body Building Queensland has also been tasked with investigating upgrading the dam and anchoring the primary and spillways.

Six men and two women stand lined up in front of the Burnett River, angry over the handling of issues at Paradise Dam.PHOTO: Opponents say they can’t believe the Government brought about the amendments without any consultation. (Supplied: Freya Penny)

Paradise now at 37 per cent

The dam, southwest of Bundaberg, has fallen to 37 per cent capacity — 113,000 megalitres — since the concerns were raised in September.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers managing director Bree Grima said the food bowl’s growers were yet to find out if water allocations would be honoured.

“We can not believe that an amendment like this would come through that simply bypasses around 17 pieces of legislation,” she said.

“They don’t need to adhere to environmental impact statements, work health or safety requirements or even council regulations.

“We simply have made major investments in the region and everyone is unsure now as to what that means.

“We need Sunwater to tell us if they are going to be meeting our water allocations that we have purchased.”

Minister defends action citing public safety

Mr Lynham said the changes were necessary and reduced the time required to complete the work.

“I will not stand here as a minister and have the population of Bundaberg and the Burnett at risk,” he said.

“The structural issues are there. Experts have advised that this dam is unsafe in circumstances such as Cycle Oswald.

“What we hear [from the Opposition] is scaremongering … in the worst degree. My priority is the safety of people in Bundaberg and the Burnett.

“There’s is an argument of confabulation and confusion. The structural integrity of the issues have been examined at length.”

Three people stand talking next to the Burnett River in Bundaberg north with the rail bridge in the background.PHOTO: Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham says public safety is his priority. (ABC Wide Bay: Nicole Hegarty)

Cause of stress, anxiety

Mr Batt said the Government and Minister had no idea of the stress the local community was under as a result of the uncertainty around the dam’s future.

“This Paradise Dam debacle has brought Bundaberg residents, growers and irrigators to tears, our community is devastated, concerned,” he said.

“The odds of someone taking their own life because this disaster has put their entire livelihood on the line is much more likely than the loss of life from the remote possibility of the catastrophic failure of a dam wall in an unlikely scenario of another one-in-200-year flood event in the next 12 months.

“I’m honestly struggling to find the right words to express my utter disbelief, anger and confusion in Labor’s destruction of our community and our economy.”

The Bundaberg Regional Council said a full report into the economic impact of reducing the capacity of the dam would be released next week.

A preliminary report estimated $1 billion would be lost to the economy, the equivalent of one in five jobs.

A Sunwater spokeswoman said high-priority water customers would have access to 100 per cent of their allocations for the 2020-21 year.

“There is enough water in Paradise Dam and other storages within the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme to meet allocations for this water year,” she said.

“Sunwater is working with customers and the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to maximise allocations for medium-priority customers across the region.

“We understand that there are concerns regarding water security in the region and are working to provide confidence to our customers as soon possible.”

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-07/outrage-as-qld-government-passes-paradise-dam-amendment/11942342

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