Bundaberg irrigators will have access to their full water entitlement until the end of June 2020 due to recent rainfall and inflows into Paradise Dam.

The allocation for medium-priority Sunwater customers has been raised from 82 to 100 per cent. Water from the dam is also being made available for irrigators and other users at no charge from February 13.

Sunwater started releasing water from the dam this week after it reached 42 per cent capacity.

As part of the process, water will be transferred to downstream storages, Ned Churchward Weir and Ben Anderson Barrage.

Maintaining the dam at this level will allow for essential work to strengthen the dam and improve community safety.

Sunwater Chairman, Leith Boully, said, “We understand the importance of water security to the region so that is why we want to maximise the productive use of the water that must be released. 

“The increase in water allocations will provide some certainty to customers for the next four-and-a-half months. They have the option to reserve their allocation, while accessing the water available at no charge.

“Announced allocations for 2020-21 will be confirmed in July, although we can say high-priority water customers will have 100 per cent of their allocation.”

Sunwater is currently assessing a shortlist of candidates to conduct the essential works to lower the spillway. A proponent will be announced in March 2020, with contractors on site in April and work commencing on the spillway in May.

“Sunwater has an obligation to retain a reduced supply level in the dam to facilitate work on the dam’s spillway as soon as possible,” Ms Boully said.

Sunwater will continue to review weather forecasts, monitor inflows and release water as required for the duration of the work.

“While the dam is safe in normal and current forecast weather conditions, if we were to experience a weather event similar to record flooding in 2013, the dam may fail,” Ms Boully said. 

Normal scheme operations will provide access to the released water.

Isis and Bundaberg area farmers who don’t normally have access to Paradise Dam water are also able to use the water being released in addition to their normal supply.

Water is also available for Sunwater customers from outside the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme and anyone who is not a current customer.

There is also the potential to release water into nearby unsupplemented streams and watercourses.

“Sunwater is working with customers, water users, industry groups and government, and is committed to ensuring the maximum level of water availability while the works are undertaken,” Ms Boully said.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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