A report released by the Queensland Government last week regarding Paradise Dam has created certainty for the safety of the local community but not for future agricultural expansion and diversification in a changing climate.
The Building Queensland Paradise Dam Options Assessment report considered potentially reducing the dam’s spillway due to structural concerns to maintain community safety while ensuring water security for the future economic growth of the Bundaberg region.
Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) President Allan Dingle said farmers placed the highest possible value of the safety of the community in which they operate, live and raise their families.
“We appreciate the Queensland Government’s proactive response to this situation given the option to leave the dam as is may not only have contributed to the loss of lives, but would have a devastating effect on the water security of the local farming community for many years to come,” Mr Dingle said.
“However, while the report approved an amendment to water-sharing rules enabling Sunwater to maximise allocations in the Burnett River sub-scheme for the next year, a detailed yield assessment has not been completed.”
“Further investigations are required to meet water security expectations, which includes an assessment of an optimised primary spillway, and alternative water supply options including the impacts on groundwater, which will help to accommodate future growth in the region.”
“Moreover, the report failed to account for the potential rates of high value crops and changes in land use under climate change. With longer periods of drought predicted for the future, farmers should have the option to adapt their agricultural needs to suit, which could include a change in crops.”
“The government should be planning now to account for future changes in land use and current market trends which could see demand outstripping supply yields earlier than the report suggests.”
“Construction works to reduce the dam spillway are expected to get underway within the next month but we call on the government to consider the continuing geotechnical assessments and act accordingly in consultation with QFF to ensure the most viable outcome for local farmers and the community.”