Farmers, business owners raise $1m for Paradise class action
Farmers and business owners have raised $1m in two weeks to fund a Paradise Dam class action against the Queensland Government and Sunwater.
The fight over Paradise Dam started in September 2019 when it was announced the spillway would be lowered amid safety concerns and water would be released from the dam.
A group of farmers and business owners have remained steadfast in their campaign against this course of action ever since.
According to Marland Law principal Tom Marland, local farmers have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of certainty over the future of the dam, which spurred the launch of a class action.
Mr Marland, who is leading the class action on behalf of the group of farmers, said farmers had raised more than a million dollars to fund a class action following a number of shed meetings held throughout the region recently.
"The support for this class action has been overwhelming actually," said Mr Marland.
He said projections from Sunwater that the dam could potentially be empty by the end of June had "really galvanised this farming community into action."
"After endless delays from the State Government and no news on the horizon about the dam's future, farmers really see no other choice but to take the State Government to court for losses and damages associated with their decision to lower Paradise Dam."
Mr Marland said based on the losses they were measuring, "we expect this class action to be in the billions".
"Restoring that dam is paramount to this community and has a massive flow on benefit to the whole state," he said.
"At the end of the day, farmers don't want a cheque from the government, they want water."
The storage forecast model for Paradise Dam on Sunwater's website is based on water allocation usage for the previous three years and historical inflow data.
A Sunwater spokesperson said the online dam storage level tool was "just a guide and subject to many assumptions and uncertainties outside of Sunwater's control".
"Many variables affect these predictions and they should be used as a general guide only," the spokesperson said.
Sunwater has indicated there is enough water in Paradise Dam and other storages within the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme to meet allocations for the 2020-21 water year.
"Water allocations are set at the start of the water year and cannot decrease as dam capacity levels reduce," the Sunwater spokesperson said.
"Should inflows occur however, allocations can increase - to a maximum of 100 per cent.
"Allocations for the next water year will be announced in July 2021."