Somerset residents will have the opportunity to play an important role in planning the upcoming Somerset Dam upgrade.

Seqwater is establishing a Community Reference Group, which will work collaboratively with the bulk water supplier to develop and implement a voluntary Social Impact Management Plan for the project.

The group will help identify potential impacts of the upgrade and ways to mitigate them as well as opportunities to maximise community benefits from the project.

Seqwater CEO, Neil Brennan, said working in partnership with the community was vital to managing any unavoidable impacts.

“The group will include representation from a variety of groups within the local community, so that we can better recognise the different interests and concerns,” Mr Brennan said.

“The outcomes of these workshops will be shared on the Somerset Dam Upgrade project website so the rest of the community can have their say too.”

The Community Reference Group is expected to participate in at least six workshops in 2020 to develop a draft Social Impact Management Plan.

Subject to approvals being obtained, construction on the Somerset Dam Upgrade is expected to start in late 2021 or early 2022.

Those interested in being part of the Community Reference Group can find more information at www.seqwater.com.au/project/somerset-dam-upgrade.

Applications close on 2 January 2020. Successful applicants will be notified before the first workshop in February 2020.

Somerset Dam was built between 1937 and 1959 to the design standards applicable at that time.

Improved estimates of the range of potential rainfall and subsequent flooding events that could occur at Somerset Dam are now available, as well as a better understanding of the risks posed by extreme floods to large dams.

The dam wall needs to be upgraded to be able to withstand extreme floods under Queensland’s Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008.

Temporary measures were implemented in 2016 to improve safety at Somerset Dam until the upgrade can be completed.

This included lowering the full supply level to 80 per cent of its normal volume and changes to the flood operations manual for the dam.

On completion of the upgrade works, the full supply level of Somerset Dam will be returned to the 100 per cent level.

The upgrade project is expected to include:

• Raising the dam wall to withstand extreme floods
• Making the spillway dissipator larger to withstand extreme floods
• Adding more concrete to the downstream side of the dam wall to strengthen the dam
• Some options being considered may make the spillway larger, replace the existing spillway gates or remove the spillway gates entirely

Early works for the project, including improvements to Esk-Kilcoy Road through Somerset Dam village, are expected to commence in late 2021 or early 2022.

Major construction work on the dam wall is expected to start in 2022 and take up to four years to complete.

Seqwater does not anticipate any significant impacts to recreation during the construction period.

Siobhan Day is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and Pump Industry magazine, and has been part of the team since early 2019. With a background in management in the non-profit sector, Siobhan has extensive experience in communications, professional writing and client management. She holds a Bachelor of Business and Communications and is currently completing a postgraduate degree.

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