Australian water utility announces dam safety improvement program

Seqwater, a state-owned water utility in Queensland, Australia, has announced long-term capital upgrade program that will assess a number of its dams for safety upgrades and improvements.

Already slated based on previous risk assessments performed under Seqwater’s Dam Improvement Program are upgrades at the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams.

The utility said it is still “considering options to improve the flood mitigation offered by both dams”, but that all work will be performed in compliance with state guidelines under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008.

“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, and this has meant that many dams across Australia need upgrades to address this,” said Minister of Water Mark Bailey.

Wivenhoe, located on the Brisbane River, was completed in the early 1980s and is part of a 500 MW pumped-storage hydropower project. Meanwhile, Somerset Dam is located on the Stanley River and houses a 4 MW plant.

State guidelines say these upgrades must be performed by Oct. 1, 2035, at the latest, though Bailey said work could begin as early as 2022 and 2025 at Somerset and Wivenhoe, respectively.

Seqwater said it will also perform upgrades at its Lake Macdonald, Wappa, Cooloolabin, Ewen Maddock, Lake Kurwongbah and Leslie Harrison dams in the near future.

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

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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