The Queensland Dam Safety Regulator has determined the schedule of Seqwater’s Dam Improvement Program, based on risk assessments.
Over the next 18 years, Seqwater will be delivering this program, enabling the region’s dams to continue to operate safely in the future – including the Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams.
Minister for Water Supply Mark Bailey said all Seqwater dams currently comply with the requirements of the Queensland Dam Safety Regulator and continue to operate safely but upgrades were needed for the future.
“As part of the program, a new study is underway to upgrade Wivenhoe and Somerset dams which includes considering options to improve the flood mitigation offered by both dams.
“Dams are long-life assets and some of south east Queensland’s dams were built in the middle of last century,” Mr Bailey said.
“Over the years we have seen advances in dam design and better understanding of the impacts of climate change, including extreme rainfall events and flooding and this has meant that many dams across Australia need upgrades to address this.
“The timing and cost of the Wivenhoe and Somerset dam upgrades will be determined by the outcome of the current study.
“Risk assessments and safety measures undertaken by Seqwater to date have been endorsed by the dam safety regulator and reviewed by independent dam experts.
“Dams are large public infrastructure and maintaining their ongoing safety is paramount.’’
Mr Bailey said that under state dam safety legislation, all dam owners across Queensland, including Seqwater, needed to manage dams to meet the requirements of the Queensland dam safety regulatory framework, overseen by Department of Energy and Water Supply (DEWS).
“Under the Queensland dam safety guidelines Seqwater is required to progressively complete its dam upgrades by 1 October 2035. However, the outcomes of the current study could see works being undertaken on Somerset Dam as early as 2022 and Wivenhoe as early as 2025.’
Seqwater Acting Chief Executive Officer Jim Pruss said all of SEQ’s dams operated safely and the program of planned works would enable this to continue in the future.
Over the next five years, in addition to the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams study, Seqwater is set to undertake upgrade works at Lake Macdonald, Wappa, Cooloolabin, Ewen Maddock dams (Sunshine Coast) and Lake Kurwongbah (Brisbane North) and planning is also underway for a future upgrade of Leslie Harrison Dam (Redland).
“Seqwater recognises the upgrades to Wivenhoe and Somerset, in particular, will be of significant interest to the community,’’ Mr Pruss said.
“We are in the initial planning phase. Later this year, once the planning scope is finalised, we will be providing the community with details of the upgrade study, its timeframes, as well as regular updates as the program progresses.
“Seqwater is prioritising its Dam Improvement Program to deliver a staged capital program that safeguards the community and delivers best value for money.’’
In recent years Seqwater has upgraded a range of dams across SEQ including Lake Manchester (2008), Borumba (2008), Hinze (2011), North Pine and Ewen Maddock Stage One (2012), Maroon and Moogerah (2014).