Lake Tinaroo hazard warning ahead of Australia Day long weekend

24 Jan 2018

As the water level at Lake Tinaroo declines towards a ten year low at 36 per cent, SunWater is warning people over the Australia Day weekend to observe the six knot speed limit or risk injury from underwater hazards.

The warning comes as SunWater prepares to conduct an underwater survey to assess the extent of hazards in a 210 hectare area of Lake Tinaroo, in the hope of extending the areas available for high-speed boating when the water level is above 8.5 metres below the spillway.

Maritime Safety Queensland gazetted a six knot speed limit for all vessels on 3 January this year, however locals are concerned boaters are continuing to put themselves at serious risk by exceeding the limit.

SunWater General Manager North Travis Richards says SunWater has received a number of local reports of people ignoring the speed limit, despite the declining water level and increasing hazard risks.

“SunWater is extremely concerned to hear people are not taking the speed limit seriously. Reckless behaviour is putting individuals and the lives of their passengers at risk - the last thing we want to see is an avoidable tragedy on Lake Tinaroo,” Mr Richards said.

“There are hundreds, possibly thousands of large trees, stumps and other underwater hazards that a pose a serious risk for high-speed activities. The threat of serious injury is very real if people ignore the speed limit.”

Mr Richards says there have also been reports of people taking matters into their own hands and cutting trees: “Illegal tree clearing and haphazard cutting will only create further hazards, as we have no way of tracking what’s been done.

“One of the biggest risks is the unknown location and heights of underwater trees and stumps. Unfortunately due to indiscriminate clearing the extent of hazards is largely unknown.

“The underwater survey planned for the deepest section of Lake Tinaroo near the dam wall will be the first of many approaches being taken to safely and responsibly manage recreational risks at Tinaroo.”

The Department of Environment and Science’s Principal Ranger Andrew Millerd said sections of the lake near the State Forest camping areas are State Forest owned and any interference with a tree in these sections requires a permit under the Forestry Act 1959.

“Anyone who illegally cuts a tree down in Lake Tinaroo can be fined up to $126,150 under the Forestry Act 1959,” Mr Millerd said.

“Cutting a tree down with a chainsaw while on a boat is an extremely dangerous activity for the person operating the chainsaw.

“It is also dangerous for people who use the lake and encounter floating hazards such as logs and branches.”

Tinaroo and the surrounding areas were training grounds for the 9th Division during World War II. Some structures and provisions were left behind when Lake Tinaroo was inundated in 1958 with the completion of Tinaroo Dam.

An old bridge at Yungaburra, building remains and relics have again been exposed by the diminishing waters and attracting onlookers, but people should approach with caution.

“These are structures that have been underwater for almost 60 years and driving or even trying to walk over these is extremely dangerous. We advise people take care around exposed land and admire relics from a distance,” Mr Richards said.

Members of the public who notice suspicious or illegal behaviour at Lake Tinaroo, including tree clearing or vessels exceeding speed limits, are urged to contact SunWater on 13 15 89 or Policelink 131 444.

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