Bosses promise dam releases will be ‘nothing like 2011’ – no big peaks

Residents are being reassured that controlled releases from Wivenhoe Dam will not cause the Brisbane River to rise above Monday’s 3.85 metre peak when thousands of homes flooded.

Mar 01, 2022, updated Mar 01, 2022
Several south east Queensland dams have opened their spill gates ahead of another wet day Sunday Image: SEQWater.

Several south east Queensland dams have opened their spill gates ahead of another wet day Sunday Image: SEQWater.

Minor to moderate flood peaks are expected to continue with Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday’s high tides as affected residents begin the clean up.

“We do expect the river to remain around that 3.5 metre mark or a little bit lower over the next few days,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.

The dam is now at more than 170 per cent capacity with staged water releases likely to continue over the next week to increase capacity in its flood compartment.

It has been a sharp increase from November when the dam was less than 40 per cent and water restrictions were being considered.

Releases are expected until at least next Monday but will not exacerbate downstream flooding, Mike Foster from Seqwater, says.

“We effectively held back the equivalent of four Sydney Harbours worth of water during this event,” he said on Tuesday.

Severe thunderstorms and isolated rain across catchment areas are expected on Thursday and Friday with much lower rainfall totals predicted.

“There’s nothing on our radar that is causing concern,” Mr Foster said.

The city received 80 per cent of its annual rainfall in three days in a “rain bomb” affecting the entire south east corner.

Addressing suggestions that water could have been released prior to the weather event, Mr Foster said Wivenhoe is important for both flood mitigation and drinking supply.

It was just over half full when the rain hit last week.

“So we had all of the capacity, plus our flood compartment, available,” Mr Foster said.

“There was absolutely no reason for us to consider the early releases.”

The controlled releases now underway are very different to the flood disaster of 2011 when the Brisbane River peaked in the city at 4.56m, Ms Palaszczuk told Sunrise on Tuesday.

“It had been raining for months and months, the dam was absolutely full, the only way they could get the water out was uncontrolled releases where the gates were actually open,” she said.

“This is different, it is very much controlled releases.”

Meanwhile, production is increasing at the major treatment plant in Mount Crosby but residents are still being advised to conserve water as it returns to full capacity.

It is experiencing production issues and the water being supplied is “absolutely safe to drink”.

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