Damages may flow on from Wivenhoe Dam Breach

Damages may flow on from Wivenhoe Dam Breach PDF Print E-mail

The QLD Flood Commission enquiry has found that the operator of Wivenhoe dam did not comply with and “breached” the official manual in regards to the release of flood waters into the river system.

Premier Anna Bligh who received the QLD royal commission style interim report acknowledged the breach by the Wivenhoe flood engineers who were managing the dam water releases “may well be tested in the courts”.

The enquiry highlighted the lack of flood preparedness by the Queensland government, systemic dysfunction and confusion across the bureaucracies involved in water management and the failure of the Water Minister Stephen Robertson to ensure timely risk management before the flood and other issues.

One of the recommendation to come out of the Flood Commission is a “ precautionary approach is best” thus a reduction in Wivenhoe Dam to 75% of its supply level for drinking water if future weather forecasts are as serious as last year.

The inquiry also found that Dam Operator Manual Breaches strips the owner and operator of Wivenhoe, the Queensland Government and SEQ Water of legal indemnification and creates an avenue for claims for compensation.

The inquiry qualified its finding that “there was a failure to comply with Wivenhoe manual” through observation that the flood engineers “were acting in the honest belief that the Wivenhoe manual did not” compel them to adopt a strategy based on forecast rainfall.

A successful legal action would that the breach had a direct and adverse impact on the levels of inundation and damage senior lawyers told the The Australian yesterday.

The inquiry found that the flood engineers did not rely on “forecast rainfall” when they were determining the timing and the volume of dam releases at critical stages during the flood event.

There was more than 17,000 homes and businesses that were partially inundated at an estimated cost of $5 billion during the January floods.

During the periods of very heavy rain with more forecast by the Bureau of Metrology the dam engineers made relatively low releases based on a “no further rainfall” model instead of the manuals requirement to be using “the best forecast rainfall”.

The Qld Premier Ms Anna Bligh has vowed to implement all of the flood enquiries recommendation of what she described as “a blue print for us to manage future disasters better”. “We owe it those people who suffered in this disaster to learn the lesson and act on them” she said.

Read more at The Australian.

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