Water is released from the dam this week.
Water is released from the dam this week.

Farmers in Paradise as dam fills

THE region's farmers are celebrating after Paradise Dam reached capacity for the second time in less than 12 months.

On Wednesday, dam operator SunWater opened the gates at the facility to release water downstream to stop an overflow.

When the dam reached capacity for the first time in March this year, water was not released quickly enough, causing water to spill over the edge, taking a number of endangered lungfish and turtles with it.

But recent flows into the dam have been slower, allowing SunWater to judge how much needed to be released and when.

In June, irrigators in the region were given 100% of their allocations for the first time since the dam was built.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers executive officer Peter Peterson said the dam reaching capacity for a second time had been welcomed by growers.

“The fact that we're headed towards the end of the dry season and we are at capacity again sets us well for the next lot of allocations, which will be determined in June next year,” he said.

“It allows them to plan so they are not playing Russian roulette with water allocation. They know what they have from the very start.”

But while farmers are rejoicing at the rain, environmental groups are concerned about the impact the full dam may have on the aquatic wildlife.

“As with last time, we are quite concerned about how wildlife such as the endangered lungfish and the turtles are going to navigate over the steps and spillway and any injuries or possible fatalities they may encounter,” Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council regional environment co-ordinator Emma-Kate Currie said.

SunWater area operations manager Nev Wogandt said the inflows had also enabled SunWater to operate Paradise Dam's mini-hydro power plant.

“We have been operating the hydro at Paradise Dam for the past three days now and are pumping around two megawatts of clean, green energy into the state's electricity grid per hour,” he said.

Mr Wogandt said based on current inflow rates, he expected the hydro power plant to operate over the next few weeks. About 10,000 megalitres of water have been released from the dam to maintain the level at 98%.

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