The following Op-Ed by Sunwater Chairman Leith Boully was first published in the Bundaberg NewsMail on Monday 27 April 2020
SUNWATER is proceeding with the Essential Works to lower the Paradise Dam spillway.
Our priority is – and always has been – to protect lives and property.
I understand that there is confusion in the community about this decision and that you may have heard about a report commissioned by the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers released recently.
This report has made several observations about Paradise Dam and elements of its remediation.
Sunwater welcomes the report and together with our international and national expert panel of advisers have carefully considered it.
Unfortunately, the report is being misrepresented.
It addresses one of three significant issues with the dam, that is, the risk caused by the condition of roller-compacted concrete lift joints.
As publicly disclosed in November, there are two other significant issues with the dam: the foundations under the secondary spillway, and the risk of further erosion and scour downstream of and under the apron.
As noted in the report commissioned by the growers, the profession’s experience with post-tensioned anchoring in RCC dams is limited.
But notwithstanding this, Building Queensland, with Sunwater and other experts, are doing further work on the anchoring proposal, including establishing if the foundations are strong enough to hold the anchors.
For Sunwater to remediate the dam, we need to address all three failure risks.
The Building Queensland detailed business case process now underway is important as it looks at the complete picture and will allow us to develop a complete solution and accurate cost estimate for the dam’s full remediation.
We understand that our customers and the broader community want certainty on the future of Paradise Dam and water security. We are working with all stakeholders, including the Burnett Catchment Industry Forum, to achieve this objective.
As I have said many times, we are progressing with the Essential Works to reduce the risk to the downstream community as soon as possible while we consider the best way to deliver longer term water security to underpin growth.
I want to emphasise that in the meantime existing irrigator entitlements are secure and, in many cases, enhanced due to the actions we have taken.
Sunwater has engaged extensively with a wide variety of experts, both within Australia and internationally.
Their advice confirms what we have said all along – lowering the dam wall is the appropriate short-term solution to reduce the risk to lives downstream without impacting existing access to water.
We welcome anyone with questions to contact us directly on 3120 0270 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.