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Water from Paradise Dam is helping ensure the taps keep running in Childers and Woodgate.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said today that the townships’ water source - Gregory Weir - had gone from approaching a critical low to almost full, thanks to Paradise Dam water.
“Sunwater has been releasing water into the Gregory River for the past 10 days following an approach from the weir’s owner, Bundaberg Regional Council,” he said.
“As of today, Gregory Weir is now at full supply level.
“And that means that the people of Childers and Woodgate have secure, ongoing access to the water they need.
“It’s great to be able to provide this for council, for Mayor Jack Dempsey, and these local communities.
“The decision to release this water was not taken lightly.
“But Sunwater and the Government are making every effort to ensure that the water that has to be released for safety is being used as productively as possible.”
Isis and Bundaberg area farmers who don’t normally have access to Paradise Dam water are also able to use the free water being released.
Sunwater has been releasing about 100 megalitres of water per day for the past fortnight into Elliot River, Mahogany Creek, Gregory River, and Logging Creek.
Irrigators with water access rights already on these watercourses have access to free water from the dam.
“A number of these irrigators have used water from those locations to fill their own dams and offstream storages,” Dr Lynham said.
“More water may be available, depending on demand from these irrigators.”
The storage level of Paradise Dam near Bundaberg is being reduced ahead of the 2019/20 wet season. This is to allow works to improve the dam’s stability during extreme rain events.
Member for Bundaberg David Batt addressed Queensland Parliament on Thursday night, saying he was in support of a full parliamentary inquiry into the design, construction and operation of Paradise Dam, as well as the Labor Government’s decision to lower the dam wall by five metres.
Mr Batt (Bundaberg—LNP) (5.20 pm): I rise to speak in support of the motion moved by the member for Nanango calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the design, construction and operation of the Paradise Dam and the government's decision to lower the dam wall by five metres.
I have been inundated with stories from Bundaberg residents about the flaws in the construction of Paradise Dam. This has not just been one or two stories since Labor announced its ludicrous plan to reduce the dam to 42 per cent of its capacity; it has been stories from multiple residents day after day.
In fact, since work began on the dam, rumours have circulated within my community regarding its construction, but nobody has wanted to formally put their name to these rumours due to fear of retribution.
Labor claims that it is reducing the spillway because of sudden safety concerns relating to the dam's original build. Despite its ongoing spiel about the importance of safety, Labor has failed to release any reports or any specific details to the public, leaving everybody completely in the dark.
The safety of residents should always be paramount and the government should always be transparent but, unfortunately, being open and honest is usually the last thing on this government's mind.
The stories that I have heard about the Paradise Dam build are worrying, to say the least. I know that I speak on behalf of the Bundaberg region when I say that it is time we got to the bottom of this mess and find out the truth once and for all. That is why the LNP is calling for a full parliamentary inquiry.
A public parliamentary inquiry would provide those involved in the dam's construction with the opportunity to speak up. It is the only way they will feel comfortable sharing their knowledge, knowing that they are fully protected by parliamentary privilege. It is their insight that is so desperately needed.
Everybody understands that reducing the dam's capacity to less than half of its capacity will permanently decrease water security in my region. That is causing immense anxiety to those involved in agricultural industries in my area.
Over the years, many farmers have migrated to my amazing region and many businesses have committed millions of dollars because of the significant and secure water supply that Paradise Dam was promised to provide. Now, Labor has destroyed the security that those farmers once had, putting the livelihoods of hundreds of Wide Bay-Burnett families at risk.
Water security is not the only concern. Labor's decision to release 105,000 megalitres of stored water is a massive slap in the face and a stab in the heart to all Queenslanders who are currently experiencing drought. Two-thirds of our state is drought declared, including the Bundaberg region, and there are communities that will run out of water completely by Christmas.
Yet Labor has decided that the water release is A-OK. The minister even claims that the water is free for farmers, but the reality is that the vast majority of this water will be wasted. Labor gave no notice of its release, so no-one had any time to prepare. This sudden, unannounced decision has taken everyone by surprise. The water will flow right past my office in Bundaberg's town centre, down the Burnett River and out to the ocean.
What a complete and utter waste!
We must also think about what this permanent wall reduction could mean for Bundaberg in a future flood event. As everybody in this House should know, in 2013 Bundaberg experienced a record flood event, causing major destruction and inundation to over 3,000 homes, 600 businesses and major community infrastructure.
North Bundaberg had the biggest mandatory evacuation in peacetime Australia, when some 71⁄2 thousand residents were evacuated from their homes. Despite all of that, this government has not even given my city a thought when it comes to what a change in the spillway could mean for Bundaberg in the next flood.
What flood modelling has been done on this decision? As the flood recovery coordinator for the 2013 disaster, I know firsthand that the vast majority of data that has been used for flood modelling for Bundaberg city is based on the current spillway level and any change to that level has the potential to significantly impact that modelling.
We need urgent confirmation from this government that the new modelling from this government that reflects the reduction has been completed in order to assure my community that the change will not have a more severe impact on people's homes, businesses and local infrastructure when the next flood event strikes.
It is both extraordinary and awfully concerning to think that a modern dam that cost taxpayers $200 million cannot last more than 13 years. That is why this parliamentary inquiry is required and why I, on behalf of the Bundaberg community, wholeheartedly support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition.