WATER SECURITY: Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey says water security is the region’s biggest competitive advantage.
WATER SECURITY: Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey says water security is the region’s biggest competitive advantage.

Paradise Dam repair bill could top $700m

DOCUMENTS show it could three times as much to repair Paradise Dam than it did to build in the first place.

The Weekend Australian, a stablemate of the NewsMail, reported that repairing the dam, which has major structural faults, would cost up to $700m.

The dam on the Burnett River northwest of Biggenden cost just $200m to build 13 years ago.

The Weekend Australian reported that Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham had been given two options: either returning the dam to full capacity at a cost of $700m or cutting its capacity to 55 per cent at a cost of $180m.

Since the water levels started to be reduced on September 24, the government has refused to release any safety and engineering reports that led to the decision.

The dam's spillway will be lowered by 5m in order to ensure the structure's integrity.

The 300,000ML dam needs to be emptied to 42 per cent in order for the work to be carried out, meaning 105,000ML was sent down the river.

The repair work could take until 2025 to complete.

WATER SECURITY: Water being released from Paradise Dam to allow for repairs.
WATER SECURITY: Water being released from Paradise Dam to allow for repairs.

A 2013-2016 safety review of the dam, conducted after the region was hit by the biggest Burnett flood in recorded history, found the spillway was not able to maintain flow turbulence.

The review found that documents, including the dam's construction report, were missing.

It also warned there were "gaps in the geotechnical information available on the constructed dam's foundations".

Issues with the dam identified include defects in the 52m wall's compacted dry concrete construction, the design of the spillway and the design of the dissipater.

The dissipater, a 300m concrete pad under the spillway which protects the dam by reducing the velocity of overflows, was destroyed in the 2013 flood.

"The primary spillway apron dissipater is considered insufficient to provide 'controlled' dissipation of energy and is likely to require a major redesign," the report said.

Dam engineer Ken Pearce told The Weekend Australian that the Bundaberg community should file a complain to the Board of Engineers over the dam's design and push for an inquiry into the regulator's approval of the project.

"There are serious problems with the design, particularly in the dissipater, which is critical to reducing the velocity of the water flow and ultimately to the safety of the dam," he said.

Paradise, the last major dam built in Australia, was constructed by the Beattie government.

WATER SECURITY: The 300,000ML Paradise Dam was built on the Burnett River by the Beattie government.
WATER SECURITY: The 300,000ML Paradise Dam was built on the Burnett River by the Beattie government.

Mayor Jack Dempsey told The Weekend Australian that water security had allowed the region to attract investment.

Bundaberg is now Queensland's largest farm employer.

"Water security is our biggest competitive advantage," Cr Dempsey said.

"It's part of why we're the food bowl of Australia."

Cr Dempsey was the Member for Bundaberg, and a cabinet minister in Campbell Newman's government, when the 2013 flood hit.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the State Government needed to "stop covering up the Paradise Dam debacle".

"The people of Wide Bay deserve to know if Paradise Dam was designed and constructed properly," she said.

"Queenslanders have a right to know why the dam had to be reduced to a staggering 42 per cent in the middle of a drought."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said some of the material about the dam would be released once it was reviewed by US engineers and a plan for the dam was finalised.



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