Dam release warning systems to improve for Queenslanders

Queensland communities living downstream of dams will receive clearer and more timely information about dam releases, following an independent review by the Inspector-General Emergency Management (IGEM) Iain MacKenzie.

Earlier this year, Emergency Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller asked Inspector-General MacKenzie to review warning systems provided by Seqwater and SunWater to communities downstream of their dams.

Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey said the Inspector-General had identified several ways the warnings could be improved.

For communities throughout Queensland living downstream of dams, timely and accurate notifications of potential flood waters passing their properties is crucial to help them stay safe, prepare and recover from severe weather events, Mr Bailey said.

While a number of improvements have been made in recent years to communication between dam owners such as SunWater and Seqwater and downstream residents, community feedback following floods in the Callide and Brisbane Valleys earlier this year suggested that more could be done.

I called for this review as I believe it is crucial for communities, including irrigators living and working downstream of the dams, to receive timely and clear notifications of any controlled dam gate openings.

Inspector-General Mackenzies report contains a series of recommendations to more clearly identify which residents living near dams need to be warned about dam releases, and advice on improving emergency alerts that are sent to provide warnings to residents.

Education campaigns will also be developed to better inform people living downstream from dams about potential gate openings and the operation of warning systems within their local area.

SunWater and Seqwater will immediately begin implementing the recommendations ahead of the 2015-16 summer period.

The Department of Energy and Water Supply and other government agencies will also act on the Inspector-Generals recommendation to review policies and regulations which support effective communication during flood events.

SunWater, Seqwater and my department will continue to consult with community members, dam owners and councils as these recommendations are implemented.