Warrawong Wildlife Park Platypus — late 1990s
Warrawong Wildlife Park Platypus — late 1990s

What about the platypus? Paradise Dam concerns aired

THE Paradise Dam Caravan Park manager says the effects of the 105,000ML of water being released is having an impact on its operations and on local animal life.

But dam owner Sunwater said it ensured through the flow rate that the impact on animals would be low.

Caravan park manager Gary Dundas said weeds where the shrimp lived on the sides of the banks had dried, which was a food supply for the fish.

He was concerned that a group of platypus well known in the area was affected, but did not know for certain by how much.

But the hole in which the platypus used to live in was far above the water line.

Mr Dundas had questions for the dam owner, Sunwater, connected to past studies of the platypus, but he also wanted to know what exactly was happening.

But he had little contact with Sunwater, and although the entity did set-up a kiosk nearby, it did not volunteer information that would inform him.

The dam currently has 176,000ML within it, and is almost half-empty.

Within 10 weeks it will drop from 75 per cent to 42 per cent so the dam operators can repair the wall and lower its spillway by 5m.

Mr Dundas said the reduced water will impact the caravan park's operations over Christmas.

Recreational activities had reduced, and the 270 bookings in the holiday period were likely to be cancelled, he said.

"It smells, it's not a pretty place at the moment," Mr Dundas said.


DAM SITE: North Burnett and Bundaberg councillors at a meeting at Paradise Dam on October 3.
DAM SITE: North Burnett and Bundaberg councillors at a meeting at Paradise Dam on October 3.


The water was a metre from dropping below the park's boat ramp, which would mean a lack of accessibility for boats, with the exception of kayaks.

He predicted the water would fall below the ramp within 10 days.

But day visitors had not reduced even though their intentions changed.

Mr Dundas said there had been an increase of politically concerned citizens who wanted to see for themselves what was happening at the dam.

"The public continually asks us what's going on and we just have no idea," he said.

"They're coming out asking questions we can't answer.

"They are standing on the bank saying 'wow, it looks a mess.'"

A Sunwater spokesman said the wellbeing of animals had been carefully considered when determining the release of water and the lowering of the spillway.

They were addressing the concerns with cattle, and with lungfish, the white throated snapping turtles, and with platypus.

Paradise Dam Caravan Park manager Gary Dundas is concerned about the welfare of animals who live in the dwindling lake.
Paradise Dam Caravan Park manager Gary Dundas is concerned about the welfare of animals who live in the dwindling lake.

"Sunwater liaised with the caravan park leasee and the North Burnett Regional Council, the site lessor, immediately after the announcement to reduce the storage level," he said.

"This has included two onsite meetings at Paradise Dam."

He said the flow rate had been chosen to reduce how the local platypus would be affected.

"While the releases are underway, Sunwater is carrying out environmental monitoring including water quality monitoring and sharing with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, who are conducting their own water monitoring.

"Measures are being implemented to minimise impacts to threatened species, such as the lungfish and white throated snapping turtles, and the likelihood of significant impacts is low."

The representative also said Sunwater was working with cattle owners with fencing.

This would reduce the movement of stock that were in flood margin leased land areas.

"As decisions are made about the dam's future, Sunwater will work with the community to ensure their views are heard," he said.

" We are forming a Community Reference Group, which will include representation from a range of community and industry groups."

Yesterday Burnett MP Stephen Bennett asked in parliament for the reports which would explain why 105,000ML of water needed to be released from the dam.

Resources Minister Anthony Lynham responded to the question, and in his minute's response did not directly commit to a definitive answer.

He said the public and the government would be given advice from experts early next year, but that they needed time to analyse the reports in context.

"Just yesterday (Tuesday) I met with representatives of the Burnett region, mainly farming representatives and we're meeting on a monthly basis to discuss issues around Paradise Dam," he said.

"But the government listens to experts on the important issues of public safety and water security."


GOING DOWN: The spillway at Paradise Dam is to be lowered by 5m.
GOING DOWN: The spillway at Paradise Dam is to be lowered by 5m.

Mr Bennett said that the answer to his question revealed no new information.

"The Labor Government is currently releasing the equivalent of 32,000 Olympic swimming pools of water in the ocean and they can't even tell us why.

"Once again, Minister Lynham has told the people of Bundaberg to sit tight and simply wait while they continue to let our precious water go down the rivers and out to sea," he said.

"That is not good enough.

"We need answers and we need them now."

A related topic that was not mentioned by Mr Bennett or Dr Lynham was the submission of an e-petition related to the dam.

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey submitted the petition on Tuesday to the Queensland Parliament, seeking the public release of the reports as well as the full repairs of the dam and replacement of the water. His petition had just above 730 digital signatures by deadline, but it had increased steadily since it was made available online on Tuesday afternoon.

NewsMail editor Adam Wratten said the mayor demonstrated "real leadership" with the petition, and this publication supports this.

"What we've heard so far in relation to why the community can't be informed has just been waffle."

Click here to see the petition can be found.