Paradise Dam.
Paradise Dam.

Sunwater, govt quiet on Paradise Dam insurance question

SUNWATER and government officials have evaded questions about whether Paradise Dam was insured and if a claim will be lodged in light of the current debacle.

On Friday the NewsMail asked Sunwater several questions including if it or the government had insurance coverage for the current situation and whether the independent panel that has been set up would look back at how this situation developed.

Last week Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham announced it was expected to cost between $50 million and $100 million to lower the dam's spillway five metres after safety issues were raised.

More than 100,000 megalitres has already started to be flushed from the dam.

Reducing the water level will allow works to improve the dam's stability during extreme rain events.

In the meantime Building Queensland will assess and report by February on future options.

The dam was opened by the Queensland Government in 2006 and cost $240 million to build.

Mayor Jack Dempsey has called it one of the biggest infrastructure fails in Queensland's history.

The cause of the safety concerns, which have not been publicly detailed, are reportedly related to its original construction and not damage sustained in the 2011 and 2013 flood events.

The following are a Sunwater spokesman's responses to NewsMail questions.

Question: Does Sunwater or the government not have insurance to cover for situations like this?

Response: Sunwater has several insurance policies to manage operational risks in connection with its infrastructure.

Question: Will the independent panel look back at how this situation developed?

Response: The independent review will examine Paradise Dam and the local community's readiness for another significant flood.

Question: Will anyone be held responsible if its found engineering or building work was not done up to standard?

Response: Sunwater's focus is on improving the stability of Paradise Dam in line with industry standards.

Question: Are there concerns about the roller compacted concrete technique used? Why was this technique used and is it still considered best practice?

Response: There are a range of different construction methods to build dams. Sunwater did not build the Paradise Dam.

Question: What is the expected life term for a dam?

Response: The lifespan for infrastructure assets such as dams varies depending on a range of factors. Sunwater follows best practice industry standards when managing its assets.

Yesterday the NewsMail sent the questions about the insurance situation and indepenent panel to the minister's office.

Dr Lynham said the government's primary concern was ensuring public safety, "which is why we have acted immediately".

He said the Inspector General of Emergency Management would undertake an independent review into the dam's preparedness for a future significant flood event.

"The review is an additional step to ensure that downstream residents are protected," Dr Lynham said.

"While it would be premature to speculate before the review has taken place, the government will scrutinise any conclusions and recommendations to ensure that any additional actions needed are acted on.''