Mayor prepared for Paradise wall to be lowered further
NORTH Burnett Regional Council Mayor Rachel Chambers has conceded that the "horse has bolted” on the 100,000ML being released from Paradise Dam as she turns her council's focus forward - what happens if the wall needs to be lowered again?
"Now that the Burnett River has changed and may change even further - because 5m may be the first stage, there may be further changes - we now have to run a strong advocacy model,” Cr Chambers said.
"The horse has bolted. We've had to resign ourselves to the fact it's a done deal.
"What we have to concentrate on now is what any further drop to the dam wall would mean, whether there's opportunities to repair dam wall, and if so, to what height?
"And, are there any other opportunities for alternative storage within the Burnett system?”
Cr Chambers also explained her "I'm speechless” comment, which she posted to Facebook the day she found out about the State Government decision after reading it in the Bundaberg NewsMail.
"The reason I said 'speechless' is that in 2013 there was a problem which (we thought had) been repaired fully, but there was always that sort of uncertainty, then all of a sudden it needed to be fixed now,” Cr Chambers said.
She said council had been working closely with the State Government via the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils to produce an economic case for the unused water in Paradise Dam.
"So we had no idea that it had been deemed a safety issue and we were still running the economic argument up until that morning I saw the NewsMail,” Cr Chambers said.
"I was speechless because of the way we had been working with the (State) Government and the way we found out.”
Cr Chambers said part of her frustration stemmed from the lack of communication.
She listed projects including the Maturing Infrastructure Pipeline Program looking at whether Biggenden's town water can be taken from Paradise; Coalstoun Lakes Development Group's Just Add Water; and the Boyne River irrigation initiative as all being drastically affected by the decision.
"Everything was hinged on Paradise remaining the same,” Cr Chambers said.
"Now Paradise is not the same, everything has changed in the whole system.”
But it's not only irrigators affected by the surprise decision.
She said she was "dumbfounded” to learn about the review into Paradise Dam "only a short time” after investing $1.25 million into an upgrade to Mingo Crossing Caravan and Recreation Park, which sits on Lake Paradise.
"Seriously, could we not have known that information before you approved that grant?” she asked.
Last week, park caretaker Chris Collins told the Times that Mingo's water "stinks” and a raft of other issues could come to the fore due the lowering of the water level, including that it may expose underwater hazards and the pump which services the park may become stranded.
Cr Chambers also said she "really feels” for the licensees of Paradise Dam Recreation and Caravan Park, located near the dam wall.
"Paradise is feeling the immediate effects, they've already fielded phone calls about Christmas bookings asking if people are going to be able to launch their boats,” Cr Chambers said.
"Those people (the licensees) have set up a business based on the back of tourism at one of our beautiful camp grounds that overlooks Paradise Dam.”