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Two key Queensland water infrastructure projects get a facelift

Two of southeast Queensland's biggest water infrastructure projects – Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams – are set to be upgraded to improve safety and flood mitigation.

The State Government has announced risk assessments of the dams – along with many others in the region – will be completed over the next five years as part of Seqwater’s Dam Improvement Program.

Minister for Water Supply Mark Bailey said upgrades were needed for the future, although currently all Seqwater dams comply with the requirements of the Queensland Dam Safety Regulator.

“As part of the program, a new study is underway to upgrade Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams, which includes considering options to improve the flood mitigation offered by both dams,” Bailey said.

“Dams are long-life assets and some of southeast Queensland’s dams were built in the middle of last century.

“Over the years we have seen advances in dam design and better understanding of the impacts of climate change – including extreme rainfall events and flooding – has meant that many dams across Australia need upgrades to address this.”

Bailey said outcomes of the study would determine the timing and cost of dam upgrades, but works could begin at Somerset Dam as early as 2022 and Wivenhoe as early as 2025.

Seqwater Acting Chief Executive Officer Jim Pruss said the program of planned works would enable the dams to continue to operate safely.

“Seqwater recognises the upgrades to Wivenhoe and Somerset will be of significant interest to the community,’’ he said.

“We are in the initial planning phase. Later this year, once the planning scope is finalised, we will be providing the community with details of the upgrade study, its timeframes, as well as regular updates as the program progresses.

“Seqwater is prioritising its Dam Improvement Program to deliver a staged capital program that safeguards the community and delivers best value for money.”

Over the next five years, upgrade works are set to take place at Lake Macdonald, Wappa, Cooloolabin, Ewen Maddock Dams (Sunshine Coast) and Lake Kurwongbah (Brisbane North).

Planning is underway for a future upgrade of Leslie Harrison Dam (Redland).

Queensland dam safety guidelines dictate that Seqwater must progressively complete its dam upgrades by October 2035.