Paradise Dam at Coringa QLD. Pic John Wilson
Paradise Dam at Coringa QLD. Pic John Wilson

PARADISE COST: How lowered dam will cost Bundy $2.4 billion

A LOWERED Paradise Dam is projected to hurt the Bundaberg economy by $2.4 billion within the next 30 years, according to data analytics.

This projection is based on no further action taken to replace the spillway after being lowered by five metres.

The amount could be more severe if the spillway was lowered even further.

The data considers there would be less investment and productivity, and a negative social impact within the local government area.

Local organisations, including Bundaberg Regional Council, contributed about $40,000 for an Adept Economics report into the financial impacts of Paradise Dam, which was released earlier this week.

The 109 page report was completed in response to the State Government's announcement last September that it would lower the spillway, in order to reduce risks during an extreme weather event such as the 2013 flood.

A spokeswoman for Building Queensland, which is a State Government entity, said the report was received on Monday and that it would have a bearing on advice being prepared for the State Government.

The BQ report was scheduled to be released at the end of the month.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers managing director Bree Grima said the industry group contributed to funding the report.

 

Bree Grima of Bundaberg Fruit Growers at the Ben Anderson Weir. Pic John Wilson
Bree Grima of Bundaberg Fruit Growers at the Ben Anderson Weir. Pic John Wilson

 

Ms Grima said BFVG believed regional businesses and the agriculture sector's contribution to the state economy was not recognised by the Queensland Government.

She was asking the State Government what its strategy would be to protect regional Queensland's economy.

She said the report showed non-irrigator businesses would also be impacted by the lowering of the dam.

"These businesses, such as hairdressers, schools and cafes in the region have customers employed by the agriculture sector and the impact to them has not been fully understood nor considered in the decision making process," Ms Grima said.

"We also have to consider the associated social problems that may arise in the community including unemployment, increased mental health issues and financial risk.

"Financial investments are made in the region when confidence is high.

"The decision to lower the dam wall reduced that confidence significantly."

 

Rotarian Ian Mylrea, owner of Northside Produce Agency Brian Gordon and Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Tim Sayre with a stock feed package.
Rotarian Ian Mylrea, owner of Northside Produce Agency Brian Gordon and Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Tim Sayre with a stock feed package.

 

Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce president Tim Sayre said the chamber did not contribute to the report.

He did however confirm, the dam's significance to the local economy.

"For us, water security has a big piece in attracting investment in the town," he said.

"It will affect everybody in this community."

Mr Sayre compared the impact of the reduced water capacity at the dam to how the drought impacted local business debt in recent months,

"For us, it's understanding that our rural economy needs the water to survive and grow and that is what the dam is for."

Bundaberg mayor Jack Dempsey said he was concerned there could be a larger impact if the State Government, or its water supplier Sunwater, lowered the dam's spillway even further.

"We all understand how important safety is in relation to this enormous infrastructure failure," Cr Dempsey said.

 

Mayor Jack Dempsey spoke on Paradise Dam at a media event yesterday.
Mayor Jack Dempsey spoke on Paradise Dam at a media event yesterday.

 

"But what we also see is the opportunity for water security.

"It's really incumbent on the State Government, who are the masters of Sunwater, to give clear direction, hope, to this community."

The report concluded that the government would be sending a poor message to potential investors if it did not replace the dam's capacity.


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