Paradise Dam.
Paradise Dam.

SunWater: Allocations cannot decrease during the water year

SUNWATER has confirmed the medium priority allocations for the Burnett River sub-scheme are at 70 per cent for the beginning of the 2020-21 water year.

The organisation announced yesterday that high priority water users in the scheme and all water users in the Kolan sub-scheme would have 100 per cent of their allocation.

SunWater executive general manager customer and stakeholder relations Cameron Milliner said the allocations were within range of those experienced over the last five years.

“Water security is important for the whole region, so it was critical to ensure availability was not adversely impacted while essential works are being undertaken at Paradise Dam,” he said.

The 5.8m reduction of the Paradise Dam spillway, as part of the Essential Works currently underway, is expected to be competed by the end of the year.

The works started on May 25, but had the decision caused divide within the local community.

During the Commission of Inquiry into Paradise Dam hearings in Bundaberg, farmers from across the region rallied outside the curthouse to try to stop the spillway from being lowered.

Local industry group, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers also sought review of Paradise by an international dam expert Dr Paul Rizzo.

Meanwhile the water allocations have been maximised after SunWater, the Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy and customer representatives worked to secure a change to water-sharing rules.

“It is important to note allocations cannot decrease during the water year,” Mr Milliner said.

“Allocations will increase during the water year following inflows.

“The priority remains community safety, and the current works to lower the spillway will provide short-term risk reduction while a longer-term remediation of the dam is designed and implemented.”

SunWater is assisting a Building Queensland-led process that will provide further information on options for the future of Paradise Dam to the Queensland Government by the end of 2021.

The options include maintaining the same dam height, raising the spillway to a level to be advised, or lowering the spillway further with extra alternative water supply options as required.

The SunWater announcement states, the Queensland Government has committed to preserving the yield currently provided by Paradise Dam to the scheme, ahead of customer demand.

SunWater is working with local groups to ensure their feedback is captured in plans to further enhance water security in the region.

“We want to ensure Paradise Dam continues to provide long term water security and underpins economic prosperity in Bundaberg and the Burnett for generations to come,” Mr Milliner said.