Last week, the Queensland Government released the Building Queensland Paradise Dam Options Assessment report. The 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. Given the significant implications such an action may have, the report was highly anticipated and important to insure the Bundaberg community and its agriculture sector for the long-term.
From the outset, it is clear that farmers place the highest possible value of the safety of the community in which they operate, live and raise their families. The proactive response by the Government and Sunwater in this instance has been vital in ensuring the long-term viability for our agricultural community and the safety of the Bundaberg region.
However, while an amendment to water-sharing rules that was approved as part of this report by DNRME will enable Sunwater to maximise allocations in the Burnett River sub-scheme for the next year, however it was also noted that a detailed yield assessment has not be done. Further investigations are required to meet water security expectations, which includes an assessment of an optimised primary spillway, and alternative water supply options, which will help to accommodate future growth in the region.
Additionally, the report highlighted the need to account for the future growth 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. With construction works to reduce the dam spillway expected to begin within the next month, the government must consider the continuing geotechnical assessments and act accordingly in consultation with QFF to ensure the most viable outcome for local farmers and the community.