Ross River Dam was fully opened during the Townsville floods. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Ross River Dam was fully opened during the Townsville floods. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Flood mitigation management scrutinised

THE Ross River Dam has "more ability" than other dams to control the release of water but is not technically for flood mitigation, the State Government has argued amid scrutiny of its operation.

A Government spokeswoman said the Ross River Dam provided a "dual purpose" of supplying critical water and flood attenuation, but was not prescribed as flood mitigation under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008.

"Most dams mitigate flooding," the spokeswoman said.

"Dams with gates like Ross River Dam have more ability to control releases.

"The dam gates are not designed to provide the degree of flood mitigation that would allow Ross River Dam to be prescribed and operated as a flood mitigation dam under the Act."

Only three of the state's 108 referrable dams are prescribed for flood mitigation under the Act.

State-owned corporation SunWater has the contract to operate the Ross River Dam, which is owned by the Townsville City Council.

A spokeswoman for SunWater previously said the organisation was "not required to provide flood-mitigation advice" as it was not declared under the Act for flood mitigation.

SunWater has also claimed the council "rescinded" an informal request on January 30 to further open the dam after being asked to formally request the action.

Meanwhile a council spokesman said the organisation received advice from "independent dam safety engineers, an independent hydrologist and SunWater" on the management of the dam and its spillway gates during the floods.

"Townsville City Council sought advice and worked cooperatively with all applicable agencies - including SunWater - in relation to the early release of water from the Ross River Dam," the spokesman said.

The LNP has accused the Government of fuelling a "blame game".

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was asked by LNP leader Deb Frecklington to guarantee there would be no "buck passing" over the Ross River Dam's operation in parliament yesterday, but did not give a direct response.

"I believe that all agencies worked in the best interests of the people of the city," Ms Palaszcuk said.

A Government spokeswoman said the Inspector-General of Emergency Management would review Queensland's preparedness and response to the monsoon trough rainfall and floods.

"The terms of reference for the review include dam operations, in particular for the Ross River Dam, and associated emergency procedures," she said.

"As the Premier told parliament this morning, the monsoon event was a one-in-a 500 year event and all parties co-operated and took advice from experts from around Australia."

SunWater did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.