Dam wall reduction approved despite ‘litany of issues’

 

MATERIALS used to build dams should be subjected to inspections and physical testing according to the recommendations of an independent inquiry that examined the Paradise Dam near Bundaberg.

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham tabled the 563-page report from the Commission of Inquiry yesterday, telling state parliament it had heard evidence about a "litany of issues" with the design and construction.

The Minister said some of these were ultimately found to be "root causes" of the present-day "structural and stability concerns".

The Paradise Dam at Coringa near Bundaberg. Picture: John Wilson
The Paradise Dam at Coringa near Bundaberg. Picture: John Wilson

The report came as the Federal Government granted approval for the reduction in height of the dam wall yesterday despite protests it would threaten farming in the region.

"The commission found that the design of the primary spillway apron is completely inadequate. It is simply not wide enough," Dr Lynham told parliament.

"Evidence before the commission suggested that if the 2013 floods had lasted longer, the erosion due to the insufficient downstream protection may have undermined the dam giving rise to catastrophic dam failure. Importantly, the Commission considers that Sunwater's position in responding to the risks associated with the dam is reasonable.

"Expert testimony before the commission confirmed that more testing is needed to resolve doubts about the dam's stability."

 

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham. Picture: AAP/John Gass
Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham. Picture: AAP/John Gass

 

The commission said materials used in dams should be inspected and tested to "confirm the values adopted for critical design parameters".

The commission also recommended dam designers give proper consideration to the "erosive force of water" and the capacity of riverbeds to withstand such force.

A Sunwater spokesman said the group had received a copy of the report and was "reviewing the findings".

The spokesman also confirmed approvals meant Paradise Dam "essential works" would start Monday.

Dr Lynham said the Government would accept all eight of the commission's recommendations.

"As always the Government's priority remains community safety - with Paradise Dam to continue to provide long-term water security and underpin economic prosperity in Bundaberg and the Burnett for generations to come," he said.

Originally published as Dam wall reduction approved despite 'litany of issues'