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Kinchant Dam attenuates water flows into sandy creek


SunWater today expressed compassion and sympathy for all residents impacted by the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Debbie and the subsequent rain depression that has caused flooding from North Queensland, through South East Queensland and into New South Wales.

SunWater CEO Nicole Hollows said she was concerned for those communities that took the brunt of the cyclone and committed that SunWater will continue to work with the Queensland Government and local authorities to support recovery efforts.

“In the lead up to and throughout the Cyclone and rainfall depression, SunWater has been in regular contact with Local Disaster Management Groups and the State Disaster Coordination Group, providing updates on activities and outflows associated with SunWater dams,” Ms Hollows said.

“SunWater owns and operates 19 large dams across regional Queensland, however none of our dams are designed or operated for active flood mitigation and as a result cannot be relied on to stop or reduce flooding.

“However, by their nature dams do provide limited flood attenuation by storing water and reducing the peak outflow through the spillway, and this is the same situation for Kinchant Dam, near Eton.

“Kinchant Dam provides critical water supply for the Eton irrigation area and is managed according to a set of regulated operating rules. Our role is to manage the dam to deliver customer water entitlements and ensure the dam remains safe, especially during times of natural disaster,” she said.

Kinchant Dam’s catchment area comprises around 31 km2 of the approximately 210 km2 Sandy Creek catchment area. Kinchant Dam is located on only one of the three tributaries of Sandy Creek that contributed to flows through to Eton.

Ms Hollows said SunWater commenced operational releases from Kinchant Dam to Sandy Creek at 11.00 pm on Monday 27 March when the level reached around one meter below the spillway, in an effort to maintain the dam at its maximum operating level.

“By commencing releases through the Kinchant Dam outlet valves we were able to delay spillway outflows until 9.10 am on Wednesday 29 March,” she said.

Ms Hollows added that notifications and warnings to the community are an important part of emergency management and a coordinated approach, including information from the Local Disaster Management Group, SunWater and the media, was essential.

“SunWater’s first advice to the community warning that releases from Kinchant Dam may occur was sent on March 20 2017, with additional messages providing updates on the status of operations from March 26 through to 31 March.”

“In the lead up to, and during, the spillway outflow at Kinchant Dam, SunWater provided information and regular updates to the Mackay Regional Council and the Mackay Local Disaster Management Group (when it was activated) to assist with their management of flooding in the Mackay district.

“We became aware that some parts of Eton and surrounding areas were experiencing some communication issues, including loss of power and mobile communication, due to the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Debbie. As soon as we became aware of this, we sought assistance from the State Disaster Co-ordination Group, informed the Local Disaster Management Group and conducted media interviews to get the message out to downstream residents.

“SunWater has early warning process in place to inform downstream residents, local disaster management groups, the community and local media about our operations which includes SMS to registered residents on the SunWater Emergency Notification Service, the SunWater App, Facebook and Twitter and local media alerts to use in broadcasts.”

Kinchant Dam is a relatively small dam with a maximum capacity of 62,800 ML, in comparison to other SunWater dams in the Mackay region such as Teemburra Dam 147,556 ML and Eungella Dam 112,476 ML.

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SunWater Media Team
Phone: +61 7 3120 0047