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Authorities begin Wivenhoe dam release

By Maria Hatzakis and Emma Pollard, Friday November 18, 2011 - 12:37 EDT
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About 8,000 megalitres of water will be released from Wivenhoe dam each day over the next week. - ABC

About 57,000 mega-litres of water will be released from Wivenhoe dam, north-west of Brisbane, to help prevent flooding this summer in south-east Queensland.

The Queensland floods inquiry recommended the dam be lowered to 75 per cent if another bad wet season is predicted.

With forecasts showing Queensland's in for a wet summer, water will be discharged from the dam from around midday (AEST).

About 8,000 megalitres of water will be released each day over the next week, reducing the dam's capacity from 80 to 75 per cent.

Water Grid manager Barry Dennien says its prudent given the summer weather forecast.

"The amount of water we've got in storage at the moment across the region is over nearly 2 million megalitres, so what we're releasing is only 3 per cent of that," he said.

"We have security for the next five years - for example the probability of reaching say 60 per cent in the combined dams in the next five years is only 4 per cent."

The State Government says it would be logistically impossible to give residents water at a reduced price while major releases are made from Wivenhoe Dam.

Water efficiency guidelines have been temporarily relaxed, meaning residents can use hoses at any time until next Sunday.

But Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser says it is not possible to give south-east Queensland households water for free.

"There's a practical point here and that is, for this period of time it would require councils to go and read everyone's meter on one day and go back and go and read it again in another 10 days' time," he said.

"That's simply not logistically possible for councils to go and do that."

Hundreds of properties in the Somerset Regional Council area that surrounds the dam were swamped when major releases were made last January.

The council says some property owners still have not returned.

Mayor Graeme Lehmann says residents hope these early low releases will prevent flooding happening again.

"A lot of people copped a lot of hardship through the January floods - glad to see that the release is happening and should give people a little bit more comfort," he said.

"Five per cent of Wivenhoe dam is a lot of water - any extra flood mitigation capability for the dam is definitely welcome."

The releases are expected to last up to a week.

Properties should not be affected but two local bridges will be cut.


© ABC 2011

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