LNP calls for Paradise Dam work halt to consider options
STATE Opposition leader Deb Frecklington visited Bundaberg today to call on the state government to stop works at Paradise Dam and listen to expert advice saying the dam could be fixed at a reasonable price.
The advice in question comes from a report handed down by dam expert Dr Paul Rizzo which states the dam could be secured using high-capacity anchors.
"It makes no sense for the Labor Government to spend $100 million to lower the Paradise Dam wall when we have independent experts saying it can be fixed for $25 million," Ms Frecklington said.
She was joined by Members for Burnett, Bundaberg and Callide; Stephen Bennett, David Batt and Colin Boyce who all added their voices to her call.
"Today is also a call to stop this idiotic drive to tearing five metres off the wall," Mr Bennett said.
"We cannot be stronger that our community has tried to send a message that is falling on deaf ears.
"But today it is really important - because we have international experts giving us the credibility for our calls for the last four months about making sure Paradise Dam remains fully intact, fully holding the 305,000 megalitres, but more importantly providing that water security our region so greatly needs into the future and right now."
The $25 million fix mentioned in Dr Rizzo's report is based off works done at Bagnell Dam in Missouri, USA.
Using the works at Bagnell Dam as a benchmark, Dr Rizzo's report estimated the cost of using high-capacity anchors at Paradise Dam to cost roughly $390,000 per anchor.
The fix proposed by engineering company GHD would require 63 anchors - the cost of which being just shy of $25 million.
But the cost of the anchors isn't even half the story - the full cost of the works at Bagnell Dam, including spillway refacing, concrete infill, new drains and new equipment cost the American equivalent of $81 million.
Mr Bennett said works should be halted until all options were investigated.
"Yes, safety must come first but Labor are moving forward with a plan to lower the dam and the government's own $6 million Commission of Inquiry hasn't even reported back yet," Mr Bennett said.
Member for Bundaberg David Batt said the state government's handling of the issue was a kick in the guts for the local economy.
"It's unacceptable that Labor only has a plan to tear down the dam and no plan to fix it," Mr Batt said.
And Member for Callide Colin Boyce said only the Coalition had a plan to deliver water security to the region.
"Fixing Paradise Dam and exploring all options both downstream and upstream are priorities for the LNP," Mr Boyce said.
"Water provides life, if you have water you have jobs, it's that simple.
"For food and job security we need to build more dams and weirs."
But Queensland's Minister for Natural Resources Dr Anthony Lynham said the state government would make a fully-informed decision based on all expert advice when it came time to fix the dam.
"Our priorities for Paradise Dam are the same as they are for COVID-19 - protect lives first and then protect businesses and jobs," Dr Lynham said.
"Sunwater is lowering the dam wall by five metres to protect lives and property.
"Then, we'll fix the dam, to protect farm businesses and jobs.
"We'll make a fully-informed call based on all the expert advice and fix this dam for the people of Bundaberg.
"As I have already said, Building Queensland is investigating three options once the spillway is reduced by five metres:
• maintain the same height
• raise the spillway back, to a level to be advised
• lower the spillway further, with extra alternative water supply options as required.
"Testing and investigations will continue this year, including
• geotechnical investigations of the dam's foundations
• anchoring trials
• additional testing of the roller compacted concrete.
"Once government has all the expert advice, we will make a fully-informed call on how to fix this dam for the people of Bundaberg and the Burnett region."