New dam safety legislation aimed to protect Queenslanders located in and around water storage dams has passed in parliament.

The Water Legislation (Dam Safety) Amendment Bill 2016 passed with bipartisan support.

Minister for Water Supply Mark Bailey said the new dam safety legislation will further safeguard Queenslanders against safety risks associated with dams.

“These important safety measures implement recommendations from the 2015 Inspector-General of Emergency Management’s review of Seqwater and SunWater warning communications, which highlighted the need for changes to dam safety emergency management procedures,” Mr Bailey said.

“The new provisions apply to water storage dams located across the state which are known to pose a risk to people.

“They will add to a range of operational improvements already implemented by the Palaszczuk Government and state-owned SunWater and Seqwater over the last two years as immediate responses to other Inspector-General recommendations.

“We are improving integration of dam safety planning with general emergency management planning, providing for provide better collaboration between dam owners and disaster management groups – reinforcing the important role local governments play in community safety.

“We know that the failure to warn about the potential impacts of flooding can have major consequences.

“These changes provide clearer role definitions for all dam owners so that they can better plan for and manage responses to emergency events and importantly, the communications they make about flooding impacts.”

Minister Bailey said many Queenslanders were affected by disasters and that we must continue to learn from events to improve our response and practices.

“This is why I have also asked Queensland’s Chief Scientist Professor Suzanne Miller to undertake an independent assessment into the operation of Kinchant Dam and warning systems for communities downstream – to make sure that everything that could be done, was done,” Mr Bailey said.

“A new express power for dam owners to reduce their full supply level without regulator approval will facilitate timely action to address any emergent and critical dam safety issue without delay.

“Dam owners are best placed to make operational decisions, and have responsibility for ensuring the safety of their dams. They need to be able to respond in a timely fashion in order to address structural problems that pose an unacceptable safety risk.”

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