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Water storage in Queensland dams to be lowered for another five years

The water storage capacity at Wivenhoe and Somerset dams in south-east Queensland will remain lowered for a further five years to make way for continued upgrades.

Temporary supply levels were introduced to the dams two years ago, to allow for upgrades as part of Seqwater's Dam Improvement Program, with Wivenhoe's capacity lowered to 90% and Somerset lowered to 80% of full supply volumes.

A Seqwater spokesperson told the Brisbane Times that the continued reduction in water supply volumes were a necessary step in ensuring upkeep.

"In the case of Somerset, assessments determined that the dam should be lowered while the scope and design of the upgrade works was undertaken," the spokesperson said.

"To ensure the same flood mitigation benefits provided by both dams was maintained, Wivenhoe Dam has also been temporarily lowered to create additional space to temporarily hold flood waters in the event of major weather events."

Scoping the upgrade of Somerset Dam is expected to be finalised during 2018, with work to begin as early as 2021 and an expected finish date in 2024 or 2025.

The Wivenhoe upgrade is expected to begin when the Somerset project is complete, although temporary supply levels would likely return to normal.

While Seqwater has assured customers that lowering supply levels for the planned upgrades will have “minimal impact” on the region's water security, the utility continues to encourage conscientious water usage.

“As always, in an environment like SEQ, being water-wise just makes sense," the spokesperson said.