Report finds dam needs further investigation
WATER priorities, dam investigations and jobs are to flow from Paradise Dam in light of the changes to water allocations and Building Queensland's report findings.
All the water sitting in Paradise Dam will be prioritised for existing customers, including Burnett farmers, while more work is done to identify a long-term solution.
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham announced that for 2020-21 Sunwater would change the water-sharing rules to make more water available.
"The changes I am announcing today mean water users will receive more of their allocation for 2020-2021, even with the dam's water levels kept at 42 per cent," Dr Lynham said.
"In fact, with normal rain this means that more water is now going to be available to growers than if no changes had been necessary to the dam.
"In the difficult times we are facing now with the coronavirus emergency, any business investment, expansion and new jobs will be greatly needed.
"Having certainty now gives farmers three months' notice to help them plan for the next financial year's cropping.
"This move to amend the water sharing arrangements for the dam is about security for local growers, but also for their employees, their families and the local community."
He said the priority remains community safety, and the works about to start to lower the spillway some five metres would ensure that.
"The next consideration is water security for producers and the region, and that's what these latest measures will provide," Dr Lynham said.
Building Queensland will continue its analysis after its initial report said further investigation was required before it could advise government on a long-term spillway height for the dam.
The report suggests further investigations were needed into three options once the spillway is reduced by five metres: to maintain the same height; to raise the spillway back, to a level to be advised; or to lower the spillway further, with extra alternative water supply options as required.
Dr Lynham said the report recognised the significance of agricultural production to the region.
"We are listening closely to this advice, and to Sunwater's Irrigator Advisory Committee and the new Burnett Catchment Industry Forum," he said.
"Let me rule out, once and for all, any decommissioning of Paradise Dam.
"Paradise Dam will continue to underpin economic prosperity in Bundaberg and the surrounding region for generations to come."
Further work to be done this year includes geotechnical investigations of the dam's foundations, anchoring trials, additional testing of the roller compacted concrete and detailed assessments of water demand in the region.
He said essential works to lower the spillway by about five metres were on track to start next month to enhance the community's safety ahead of the next wet season.
The $100 million contract is expected to create 80 jobs and is scheduled to be completed by the third quarter of 2021.
The report is available at buildingqld.qld.gov.au