Brisbane mayor wants more water supplies
Brisbane needs more water supplies so dam operators don’t face a “Russian roulette situation” when they decide to release water before the floods, the city mayor said.
Queensland’s capital has received 795mm of rain, the wettest week in the city since its record start in 1840, when deadly floods occurred in February and March.
Thirteen people died and 18,000 homes and businesses were hit when several rivers broke their banks and flash floods swept waterways in the southeastern state.
Operators at the Wivenhoe Dam, Brisbane’s main water supply, carried out a series of flood mitigation discharges during the flood, which critics say intensified the floods.
The state government is evaluating an independent report on disaster preparedness and management, including dam management, which was delivered to it last week.
Brisbane Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the government should invest more in alternative water supplies so dam operators can proactively address flood discharges.
He says it should be priority with another third consecutive La Nina event scheduled for this summer.
“So the dam operators have this really difficult position: they are preparing for drought on the one hand, holding on to as much water as they can, but they also have to prepare for floods,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday. .
“And if we had more reliable water sources and invested in more water sources, then we wouldn’t be in the situation they have this Russian roulette situation where it is: we should hold the water or we should release it in anticipation of flooding.”
Water Minister Glenn Butcher brushed off the mayor’s concerns, saying the water supply compartments of major dams may be full, but the flooded compartments are all empty.
He said dam controllers needed a guaranteed water supply and it was too early to know if flood releases would be needed this summer.
“The release of the water early on now, and you know and the rain isn’t coming, so that would be a different story,” Mr. Butcher told reporters.
“You know, we would look for other options to say well ‘because the water was released when it was not needed’.”
The government is still reviewing a report on flood preparation and management provided to it by the state inspector general for emergency management last week.
Mr. Butcher said he did not read the report, but suggested that “there may be opportunities” to increase the flood compartment capacity of some dams.
The Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday that southeastern Queensland received “average or above average rainfall” in August.
Over the past seven days, rainfall has exceeded 100mm in parts of southern Queensland “which are generally dry at this time of year,” the forecaster said.