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Member For Burnett Fears Paradise Dam Will Disappear

Darren Large from Sunwater said they need to drain some water out of Paradise Dam to carry out essential works. Those works involve lowering the dam's spillway by five metres "To improve stability and enhance community safety".

Construction to lower the wall is expected to get underway in late April or early May, outside of the peak wet season.

Paradise Dam reached 49 per-cent capacity following recent rainfall. Sunwater started releasing water from the dam on the weekend, bringing the level back to 42 pr-cent.

Mr Large said "Sunwater understands that water security is of utmost importance to the whole region, but the engineering assessment that's been undertaken, supported by national and international experts, so we can't ignore the evidence".

He stressed "The decision to lower the dam hasn't been taken lightly, it's been made in the interests of safety".

Mr Large said they "Have speaking to customers and stakeholders about their decision to lower the wall of the Paradise Dam since September [2019] when we originally became aware that we had to reduce the water level to 42 per-cent".

He said they have also established working groups made up of members of the community and Sunwater customers to address water security concerns.

In terms of future water allocations, he said there will be changes made to ensure they can maximise the available water announcement for next year.

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said "I’m fearful that if the Labor Government gets their way, there won’t even be a dam to release water from".

"The Labor Government has cleared the way to start demolishing the Paradise Dam wall after using their majority to pass sinister new laws through Queensland Parliament last week.

"Water security is the number one priority for our region and our farmers, and right now that State Labor Government is putting it in jeopardy.

"Based on preliminary discussions with an internationally renowned geotechnical and civil engineering expert, Paradise Dam is reparable, and yet the Palaszczuk Government is still moving forward with their plans to chop five metres off the top of the dam wall.

"We should be looking at every other possible option before such destructive measures discussed.

"Labor won’t even allow the independent inquiries to run their course before they bring in their bulldozers.

"The move will destroy our region’s water security and economy. The latest attack is an absolute disaster for the entire Wide Bay region, and our community deserves so much better than this.

"The impacts of this dam disaster are significant and our region is facing a very uncertain future.

Member for Bundaberg David Batt said “2 months ago Paradise Dam was reduced to 42% and just last week it had fallen to less than 35% due to natural environmental circumstances and customer use, but this week capacity has risen to 51% due recent rain and inflows in the catchment".  

“Sunwater’s decision to again release water from Paradise Dam is questionable as it runs the risk of the dam being much less than 42% if we don’t get more substantial rain between now and the time work begins on lowering the wall – leaving farmers and irrigators with an even smaller water allocation.

“No one wants to see water wasted and although our farmers and irrigators have not planned for extra water, the State Labor Government and Sunwater must honour its commitment and offer any additional released water to customers free of charge before sending it down the Burnett River and out to sea" he concluded.  

By Michelle Brewer