Dam chiefs pass buck over floods

Wivenhoe Dam spillway on Saturday.
Wivenhoe Dam spillway on Saturday. Rob Williams

WIVENHOE Dam's operator has blamed weather forecasters for bad advice in the lead-up to January's flood disaster and cleared itself of having significantly contributed to the disaster.

Seqwater's self-examination of its role in the floods was released by the State Government yesterday. It will later be handed to the Commission of Inquiry.

In its report, Seqwater said it operated the dam according to its manual that applies during flood events, which started on January 10, and pointed to inaccurate weather forecasts.

It said all but two of eight three-day forecasts, between January 6 and January 9, dramatically underestimated rainfall.

“These underestimated rainfall forecasts did not support an increase in flood releases above that undertaken,” the report said.

The 1000-plus page report said the dam had mitigated the impact of the flood.

Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said he, like many constituents, had concerns about how the dam was operated around the time of the January floods.

He questioned Seqwater's blaming of weather bureau forecasters for playing a part in the floods.

“I don't think the average person on the street thinks that the allegation the Bureau of Meteorology gave them wrong information means that Seqwater is free from responsibility,” Mr Neumann said.

“I don't think that it absolves them from the prudent operation of the Wivenhoe Dam.”

State Opposition natural resources spokesman Jeff Seeney said the report reinforced the view that dam releases were “grossly inadequate”.

A BOM spokesman said it would make its own submissions into the role it played in the floods to the Commission of Inquiry.

The Seqwater report can be found on the Department of Environment and Resource Management’s website at

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