Wivenhoe Dam
Wivenhoe Dam

Relief over dam levels

THE "Lower the Dams" protest at Wivenhoe Dam has been cancelled after Minister for Natural Resources Rachel Nolan yesterday announced the dam's level will be reduced to 75% following expert advice.

Ms Nolan announced the full supply level of Wivenhoe Dam, currently at 80%, would be reduced to 75% to prepare for the coming wet season.

Lower the Dams protest organiser Dianne Dimitrov said she hadn't seen the detail of the announcement but it was likely any protest was now unnecessary.

"If they are going to drop it and keep it at 75% that makes us feel a lot safer," Mrs Dimitrov said.

"At least it seems they're now listening to us ... so we will call the protest off.

"It might relieve their stress and they might be able to sleep at night now."

Ms Nolan said the recommendations stated Wivenhoe Dam should be reduced if the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) made a similar forecast for the 2011-12 wet season as last year's weather conditions.

She said the BOM's Australian Seasonal Climate Outlook presented to the Queensland Government advised of "a moderate to high level of confidence that the rainfall over the November to January period will be above the long-term median in southern Queensland and New South Wales".

"My advice is that, if water levels are maintained at 75% going into the next wet season rather than being allowed to rise to 100%, then in the event of a flood like last year's the flood peak would be 0.3 metres lower at the Port Office (Brisbane CBD) gauge."

Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully, who called for a permanent reduction in the Wivenhoe Dam level last May, hailed yesterday's decision as a "victory for people power".

"This decision is an admission the release of water from Wivenhoe Dam was poorly managed by the dam operators last summer," he said.

Somerset Regional Council mayor Graeme Lehmann who also recently stated dam levels should be reduced to 50%, yesterday supported the State Government's decision.

"It's good to see they're making that move. I think 75% is a good start," he said.

"Let's hope we don't get a bashing like we had in January.

"Any extra capacity in the dam will be a help."

Ms Nolan said water would be released from Wivenhoe Dam beginning later this week and that Seqwater would launch a strategy to keep affected landholders informed.

Twin Bridges and Savages Crossing will be closed for 10 to 12 days but Colleges Crossing will remain open.

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