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Boondooma Dam overflows for first time in eight years, giving farmers access to Boyne River water scheme

Monday December 6, 2021 - 21:00 AEDT
ABC image
Boondooma Dam reached capacity on Monday morning, after a month of heavy rainfall in the North Burnett. - ABC

Eight years of water insecurity for farmers have been washed away in less than a month after massive rainfall filled Queensland's Boondooma Dam. 

Inflows of more than 150,000 megalitres have seen Boondooma Dam increase 76 per cent in volume to spill over this week.

The dam in the South Burnett has primarily supplied water to Tarong Power Station, but growers downstream of the Boyne River will now be allowed to pump from the scheme once again. 

Mundubbera citrus farmer Troy Emmerton said recent downpours had made his drought worries disappear.

"It's a good feeling after having no water for 28 months," Mr Emmerton said.

"We're going to be back to normal, now it's full capacity. We'll have no water problems for at least 18 months."

Despite having on-farm water storage, Mr Emmerton said he shared the concern of all growers who were a part of the Boyne River and Tarong water scheme.

"In the 90s we built on-farm storage, so that sort of tries to carry you through, but when you have dry periods for 28 months it is scary," Mr Emmerton said.

Allocation upped 

In a statement, water provider Sunwater said it was the first time the dam had reached full capacity since the 2013 floods and announced allocations for the Boyne River and Tarong Water Supply Scheme were reviewed.

"As a result, the medium priority announced allocation has increased. The current allocations are now: high priority 100 per cent, medium priority 100 per cent [previously zero]," it said.

Blueberry farmer Stewart McKenzie said it had been an expensive year of securing water since growers were cut off from the Boyne River water scheme when the dam fell below 30 per cent.

"We managed to survive on the water from the Burnett, but we had to keep buying extra water,' Mr McKenzie said.

"We had to buy an extra 250 to 300 megalitres per year. We had to put down a new pipeline into the Burnett at a very high cost and run a bigger pump from that direction to make sure we got security."

While relishing in the site of a full dam, he said it was still hard to not worry about the future of water security for the growers who remained along the Boyne River.

"I know there's a lot less on the river itself now using the water, but the reliability is still very low," he said.

Mr Emmerton said the rain was a timely reminder the region needed more water storage facilities.

"Water is a big issue in any horticultural industry. All the water that is going out to sea is a total waste in my opinion," Mr Emmerton said.

"The whole Wide Bay needs to have more water storages so it can hold more water capacity, whether it's small weirs and dams, just so they can catch some water and not let it go to waste."


© ABC 2021

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