Living Near Dams

Dams provide many benefits for our communities such as town water supply, irrigation, groundwater supply, stock and industrial use such as power stations and mines. They also provide a great place to visit to enjoy recreational activities, however there are risks associated with dams which are important to understand, particularly if you are a resident living downstream of a dam.

For more general information relating to SunWater dams, please view our SunWater Dams brochure.

Safety living downstream of dams

In the event of heavy rainfall in a dam catchment area, a dam will provide some attenuation (reduction) to flooding downstream of the dam. However, as the dam’s storage level increases and reaches its full supply level, excess water is diverted through a spillway to flow downstream.

SunWater is unable to prevent these outflows; however, SunWater can keep the immediately downstream residents, local Council and Local Disaster Management Groups and more broadly the general community informed about dam storage level increases and outflows.

It is important for residents living downstream of a dam to understand the risks of outflows from a dam.

How a resident can prepare for a flood

SunWater encourages all residents living in close proximity to SunWater dams to be prepared for extreme weather, particularly during the summer seasons. Key to being prepared for an emergency situation is developing a ‘what-if plan’ which includes an emergency plan and preparing an emergency kit as outlined on the Get Ready Queensland website www.getready.qld.gov.au/be-prepared.

As part of preparing your ‘what-if plan’, here are some questions to consider:

  • Have you responded to SunWater’s letter to register your details with SunWater to be notified when water is flowing from a dam near you and are your details up-to-date?
  • Do you know when you should move your stock and valuables to higher ground?
  • Do you know when to evacuate or relocate your family members?
  • What alternate evacuation routes do you have if roads are flooded?
  • Are you familiar with where your emergency alerts will come from?
  • Do you have access to a battery operated radio, and spare batteries, if mobiles and internet is not available?

Here are some more tips to be prepared:

  • Monitor dam storage levels on SunWater’s website
  • Monitor Bureau of Meteorology for weather reports – www.bom.gov.au
  • Understand how your Council and Local Disaster Management Group manage emergency situations in your local area
  • Connect with SunWater on social media to receive updates in emergency situations at SunWater dams – @SunWaterLimited or facebook.com/sunwater
  • View the latest information from key government agencies – www.qldalert.com

For more general information relating to SunWater’s flood management, please view our Dam Management During Floods brochure.

Other important sources of information during a flood

For helpful information during a flood at a specific dam location, please refer to the relevant dam listed in the side panel of this page. In addition, these links may provide useful information also:

Dam failures

Australia has a good safety record due to the safe management and the high standard of construction, operations and maintenance of our dams.

While it is unlikely, a major incident at a dam has the potential to cause a dam failure and uncontrolled outflow of the water stored within the dam.

Should an incident at a dam occur, SunWater would follow an Emergency Action Plan which prescribes procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency, which includes liaising with the State Disaster Coordination Centre. If there is a possibility of an uncontrolled outflow, community-wide advice via state’s emergency alert system recommending immediate evacuation to higher ground would be issued.

Dam Safety Improvement Program

SunWater is committed to dam safety and has an effective dam improvement program in place. This program is intended to minimise the risk of a dam failing and to protect life and property from the effects of such a failure.

For more information, refer to the Dam Improvement Program page.