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'Tremendous' inflows into regional Queensland dams after record November rain, but Wivenhoe misses out

Saturday November 13, 2021 - 05:41 AEDT
ABC image
Coolmunda Dam in September 2019 (left) and this week. - ABC

A number of regions in Queensland are enjoying a significant top up to their dams after several days of record-breaking rainfall, yet in south-east Queensland, major storages have missed out.


Despite the heavy rain this week, south-east Queenslanders have been urged to reduce their water use ahead of summer, with some major dams ? including Wivenhoe ? missing out on significant inflows.


Queensland Minister for Water Glenn Butcher urged people to conserve water, with the combined capacity of south-east Queensland's dams hovering around 55 per cent, and restrictions to be considered at 50 per cent.


"The dams are low. Wivenhoe Dam is currently sitting around 39 per cent capacity. That is one of the lowest levels in Wivenhoe Dam since the millennium drought," he said.


While SeqWater was preparing to put its drought response plan into action, further north, South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto said the heavy rainfall was flowing into the region's three dams.


"It's been absolutely tremendous," he said.


"The fact that it's fallen on the eastern side of the Bunya Mountains has meant that we've got that flow now down through Barkers Creek and into the Bjelke-Petersen Dam which has been, quite frankly, an absolute godsend."


Major top-up for the Burnett


The Bjelke-Petersen Dam has received 9,200 megalitres of water, taking it from 6 per cent to just over 13 per cent. 


Boondooma Dam, the region's biggest storage which supplies Kingaroy's drinking water, has increased from 23 to just under 25 per cent.


"And we're seeing that increasing on a day-by-day basis now as that water flows out there through the Boyne River," Cr Otto said.


At Stanthorpe on the Granite Belt, Storm King Dam is overflowing after the Bureau of Meteorology recorded 85.8mm on Thursday.


Mayor Vic Pennisi said he could not complain about the dam being full after several years of drought.


"I live only 3 kilometres from it and it hasn't stopped running over since March," he said.


"Now it's running over even a lot more than before and we've had a fair bit of rain this year.


"It's gone from parched, dry, brown to wet and green ? just the transformation in about nine months has been unbelievable."


Coolmunda Dam east of Inglewood is sitting around 103 per cent after the recent rain.


Sunwater operations manager Colin Bendall said it began spilling on Thursday and was likely to continue over the next few days. 


In late 2019 the dam was less than 15 per cent full, and it has increased by 7,000 megalitres since inflows started on November 7. 


"We've also had some good inflows into Leslie Dam at Warwick, which is up to 62.5 per cent capacity and it's also come up about 7,000 megalitres," Mr Bendall said.


"That's the highest that dam has been since January 2014."


Julius Dam outside of Mount Isa has received about 4,880 megalitres; as of Thursday it was at 98.59 per cent with further inflows predicted over the coming days.  


Paradise Dam in the Bundaberg region is expected to spill this weekend. 


Major dams miss out


Wivenhoe Dam, which supplies the majority of the South-East Queensland's drinking water, has only increased by 0.2 per cent in the past week to sit at 39.4 per cent.


Near Emerald, Fairbairn Dam, which has been low for several years, sits at 12.34 per cent despite heavy rain and flooding in Central Queensland this week.


But Mr Bendall said there was still hope.


"There hasn't been a lot of rise in Fairbairn yet, but if you look at the gauging stations up in the top end of the catchment, there are some quite moderate flows of between 7,000 and 12,000 megalitres a day," he said.


"So we are expecting some inflow into the dam, which is great news. It's a little too early to tell how much will flow in just yet given the size of the catchment."


As the rain subsides over the weekend, Mr Bendall said there were no major areas of concern but urged locals to stay informed and avoid flooded areas.







- ABC

© ABC 2021

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