Fairbairn Dam fills and spills after 17 years

20 Jan 2008

A sight not seen for more than 17 years was on full display at Fairbairn Dam this weekend when a torrent of water poured over the spillway crest of Queensland’s second largest dam.

SunWater Corporate Strategy Manager Tom Vanderbyl said it was the first time the dam had spilled since 1990 and the recent dam-filling deluge would no doubt herald a wave of confidence among water users in Emerald.

The dam spilled at 11am on Saturday and water was now 2.86m metres above the spillway crest with around 100,000 megalitres pouring over each day.

The dam’s total capacity at crest level is 1.3 million megalitres and its catchment takes in the 16,000 square km.

Mr Vanderbyl said heavy and consistent rainfall right across the catchment over the past two weeks had resulted in major inflows which had lifted storage volumes to filling point.

“It’s certainly been a very long time since we last witnessed such massive inflows in such a short period, but we are certainly pleased with the volumes we now have stored and the tremendous position that has put our customers in,” Mr Vanderbyl said.

“With the dam now full, farmers can expect a full allocation for a couple of years and towns and mines for at least four to five years.

“We only have to look back a few months ago to when the dam was at extremely low levels and farmers had no allocation, to really appreciate the extent to which this recent rainfall has benefited the region,” he said.
SunWater said it was continuing to monitor major inflows into the catchment which were expected to increase the volume stored even further over the next 48 hours.

The spillway overflow was rising at a rate of 7cm per hour and expected to peak at 3.7m by Tuesday.

The height of the spill over the crest is the largest in the dam’s history surpassing the 2.82m spillway height recorded in 1984.

Media Enquiries

Glenn Pfluger
Media Advisor
Phone +61 7 3120 0047
Mobile 0407 574 663
Email glenn.pfluger@sunwater.com.au

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