A protest by the local agricultural industry outside the Bundaberg Courthouse during a Commission of Inquiry into Paradise Dam’s construction.
A protest by the local agricultural industry outside the Bundaberg Courthouse during a Commission of Inquiry into Paradise Dam’s construction.

Future for Paradise uncertain until at least 2021

THE long-term option for Paradise Dam's future will be determined in a detailed business case early next year.

Water supplier Sunwater and Building Queensland will present details to the State Government months after the election. Sunwater also announced it will lower the spillway an additional 80 centimetres.

Building Queensland already identified three main possibilities to fix Paradise Dam's structural issues in February.

The additional report they provide to the State Government in early 2021 is expected to provide further details and costs to the elected government.

Building Queensland will provide further details on three options including lowering the spillway by five metres, which Sunwater was going to do anyway. Another option is to lower the spillway by 10 metres and consider further water storage options.

The third option was to reinstate the dam to its full storage capacity. It did not recommend decommissioning the dam.

The future of the dam's capacity has been in question since at least last September, when Resources Minister Anthony Lynham announced water would be released from the dam, so that construction could be start this month to lower the spillway by five metres.

Yesterday Sunwater said the dam will instead be lowered by 5.8 metres due to engineering reasons, which requires removing two panels from the spillway.

The additional 80 centimetres will make a difference of 14,000 Megalitres, or four per cent of the current storage capacity.

Once this work is completed the storage capacity will be 57 per cent of what it originally was.

"A nominal five metre lowering has been discussed for some time as this can significantly reduce the risk of a dam failure," a Sunwater representative said.

"The actual approach for lowering the wall has been developed as the construction methodology has been refined with CPB Contractors since they were appointed in March this year.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers' managing director Bree Grima said that any reduction from the spillway would be "devastating" on the industry and local economy.

She said a recent economic report commissioned by local organisations including BFVG showed that more than 8000 jobs would have a $2.4 Billion impact to the economy.

"An extra 0.8 metres would extrapolate that to $2.7 Billion," Ms Grima said.

"We cannot risk irreversible damage. This will not do."

"We're calling for full remediation of Paradise Dam to protect the industry and support this thriving regional economy."



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