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Deluge misses flowing into Wivenhoe Dam, north-west of Brisbane, with water levels just 'a tick over 37 per cent'

By Nibir Khan and Lia Walsh, Tuesday April 6, 2021 - 19:40 AEST
ABC image
In early March 2021, Wivenhoe Dam was about 36 per cent capacity. - ABC

More than 10 dams in south-east Queensland are overflowing after steady rain but the region's largest, Wivenhoe Dam north-west of Brisbane, has missed out, authorities say. 


Residents in south-east Queensland are being asked to conserve water as dams central to the region have not received as much rainfall as their coastal counterparts during the deluge over the last week.


Wivenhoe Dam is 80 kilometres north-west of Brisbane and hit its lowest levels in a decade last month.


Seqwater spokesman Mike Foster said Wivenhoe Dam was south-east Queensland's " most important dam" and its water levels were currently "a tick over 37 per cent".


[external link graph]Mr Foster said the Easter rain was "a bit of deja vu" with coastal lakes filling up but central dams missing out.


"Our big dams on the Sunshine Coast are pretty well at capacity, as are our Gold Coast dams," he said.


"Unfortunately, where it counts ? our big central dams, particularly Wivenhoe ? didn't see a lot of those big falls."


Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Matt Marshall said traditional weather patterns had played a part in the disparity of water levels among dams in south-east Queensland.


"We don't often get these massively widespread huge rain events ? we usually have these localised pockets of heavier rainfall," Mr Marshall said.


"That's why you're seeing such variation around the different dams in the areas because we get massive variations in heavy rainfall on quite a small scale around south-east Queensland."


Residents need to conserve water


Mr Foster said while formal water restrictions were not yet in place, Seqwater was continuing to implement a drought response plan for the region.


He said Wivenhoe Dam's low levels are a result of consecutive "failed ? wet seasons".


"When you look at the history of [Wivenhoe] from [2011] to [2013, 2015], big rainfall events have filled those storages, unfortunately we've had failed consecutive wet seasons," he said.


Over the last two weeks, Seqwater had recorded 150 litres water use per person, which Mr Foster said was "pretty good".


"It seems a little bit abnormal that after the rainfall we've had, that we're continuing to ask people to ? save water," he said.


"We really need the community to continue to keep [that] low ? water use, particularly as we go into what are our typical dry months of the year over autumn and winter."


Mr Marshall said areas around Wivenhoe Dam such as Fernvale and Esk might get some rain over Wednesday, but it was likely to be scant.


"We may see a few places picking up a few more millimetres here and there ? probably on the on the scale of around the 5 millimetres mark if we do see anything," he said.


The forecast for the next seven days does not look any wetter.


"We've got a pretty dry outlook for the south-east quadrant of Queensland for the next seven days," Mr Marshall said.


"It's looking like this system, which has brought a lot of rain to south-east Queensland for the past few days and over the Easter break, is the trough that's sort of sitting offshore at the moment out over the water, and that's going to slip further into the south-east into the Tasman Sea.


"It's going to take away a lot of the rainfall as it does so."


Looking further ahead, Mr Marshall said climate predictions suggested the area would not be receiving much rainfall in the next couple of months either.


"The climate outlook is suggesting a drier-than-average period for April and May as well," Mr Marshall said.


Water release scheduled into Wivenhoe


The significant weather event that brought heavy showers across the region made the grid total rise by 1 per cent, but the lighter showers towards the centre meant the ground was not wet enough to start flows into Wivenhoe Dam.


Seqwater has scheduled a release from Somerset Dam into Wivenhoe Dam this week.


"We started to do some operational releases from Somerset in the Wivenhoe, so folks who jump on our website who follow dam levels very closely certainly will see an increase slightly over the next week or so," Mr Foster said.


Seqwater said it hoped the release would "balance lake levels" and cause a rise of more than half-a-metre of water in Wivenhoe Dam.










- ABC

© ABC 2021

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