RUNNING OUT: The decision to lower Paradise Dam's spillway has provoked strong feeling in the Wide Bay Burnett.
RUNNING OUT: The decision to lower Paradise Dam's spillway has provoked strong feeling in the Wide Bay Burnett. Erica Murree

Using water a 'moral and financial imperative': Irrigators

A Burnett irrigation group which has grand plans of building a pipeline from Paradise Dam to unlock the region's agricultural potential has issued a statement on the controversial lowering of the dam's spillway.

The Coalstoun Lakes Development Group's Just Add Water project involves linking Paradise Dam to the Tarong Pipeline, meaning not only could North Burnett irrigators access the dam's water, but it could be used to supply Tarong Power Station as well, unlocking Boondooma Dam's supply for South Burnett irrigators as a result.

The group said it supported the State Government's decision.

"We would prefer to see the dam repaired to its original capacity," group chair Steve Marshall said.

"The option of reducing the dam capacity by 5m is a better outcome than more significant reductions by as much as 17.5m.

"The Just Add Water project is viable with this level of reduction as it includes significant off-stream storage capacity and offers a sound basis to recover the costs of dam safety upgrade through increased utilisation for a range of uses including irrigation, urban and industrial uses."

When the news about the need to lower the dam level was announced late last month, Mr Marshall told the Times the group had the solution to easing pressure on Paradise Dam.

"Give us the pipeline and we will take 66,000ML out of Paradise Dam for you, and you'd be getting paid, you wouldn't be giving it away for free," he said.

He expressed the group's disappointment that the decision wasn't deferred until after the completion of a Federal Government water feasibility study into the Burnett region, but said they understood the safety imperative.

The group is still keen on securing a meeting with Sunwater and Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham.

"The group would welcome any opportunity to contribute to the independent review into Paradise Dam announced by Minister Dr Anthony Lynham on 26th September," the statement read.

"At a time when much of the country is in drought, utilisation of precious water resources is a moral and financial imperative."

Dr Lynham announced there would be an independent inquiry into Paradise Dam, led by the Inspector-General of Emergency Management.

That inquiry will focus on disaster management and the community's preparedness in case of future flooding.

The State Opposition is pushing for a parliamentary inquiry examining the dam's construction methods and the decision that required the lowering of the spillway.