Water pours from the Wivenhoe Dam spillway in mid-January this year.
Water pours from the Wivenhoe Dam spillway in mid-January this year. Rob Williams

New dam rules to avert disaster

WIVENHOE Dam operators have been given increased powers to release water in emergency situations in changes made to the dam's flood manual.

The State Government's dam safety unit and Seqwater have approved changes to the Wivenhoe flood mitigation manual following an interim review.

Those changes are in line with the recommendations made by the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry interim report.

Officials say the changes mean dam operators are now better prepared for disasters coming into the wet season.

Approval of the manual has now been gazetted, as required by the legislation, and will be made publicly available tomorrow.

Natural Resources Minister Rachel Nolan said the revised dam manual has two critical differences from the manual that was used during January's flood.

"First, it clarifies the manual, making the language simpler and clarifying when certain phrases, such as the use of rainfall predictions, are to be used," she said in a statement.

"Second, it sits alongside the recommendation that full supply level will sometimes be reduced, to allow for water releases to commence before the dams have reached 100%.

"This review is an interim review responding to the recommendations which have so far been made."

She said that a more detailed and comprehensive review, including new hydrological studies, is now being undertaken.

But because it will need to take into account the inquiry's final recommendations, which aren't due until February next year, the full review won't be finalised for some time.

She said the Department of Environment and Resource Management's (DERM) Dam Safety unit have been working hard on the reviews.

"Our dam safety unit has really been going above and beyond to ensure our manuals will be ready ahead of the wet season and I have every confidence in the work that they're doing," Ms Nolan said.

"For security reasons some information within the manual cannot be made public so we will now work to prepare it for online publication."

Changes to the North Pine dam's flood manual are expected to be completed on October 14.


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