An independent review has found strong disaster preparedness and planning exists at the local and district level to respond to a possible future flood event affecting the Paradise Dam in the Burnett River system.
In September 2019, the Inspector-General Emergency Management was tasked to undertake the Paradise Dam Preparedness Review to provide an assurance about capabilities and community readiness for any flood future event and help strengthen local and district disaster management arrangements.
The review’s report found comprehensive flood studies, modelling and mapping, evacuation planning and exercises have been undertaken at the local and district level in the Bundaberg and North Burnett regions.
In releasing the report, Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford said the review made 33 findings and 17 recommendations relating to dam safety, disaster management arrangements, emergency communications, community readiness and lessons management.
“The report has identified effective disaster management capability exists at the local and district level in the North Burnett and Bundaberg regions and found local community preparation had increased in recent years,” Minister Crawford said.
A survey of residents found:
- 93 percent of residents were confident they were prepared for and could responded to a local disaster event
- 87 per cent of respondents were confident they would receive adequate information or warnings about a potential local disaster event
- 64 percent of residents had prepared items for an emergency kit
“Like any review, there are findings and recommendations that will help drive continuous collegiate improvement in our disaster management sector and promote community safety in the Bundaberg region.
“The report found the community in North Burnett and Bundaberg had a good understanding of the risk of riverine flooding given recent experience with widespread events in 2010 and 2013, however specific flood risks and disaster arrangements relating to a possible flood event associated with Paradise Dam were not yet well understood by the community.
“It includes a recommendation for a joint community engagement program and communication strategy to be conducted by the dam operator and local governments to help better prepare the community and casual/itinerant workers and tourism sector for events in the 2019/20 storm and cyclone season.”
The report noted strong interest in the local community about water security and any potential impacts of lowering the dam on primary producers, however this was outside the scope of the review’s terms of reference.
Key findings from the report include:
- North Burnett and Bundaberg LDMGs and Bundaberg DDMG have enhanced disaster management plans relating to flooding of the Burnett River system or associated with Paradise Dam and are well prepared to respond to a flooding event
- The dam operator has addressed all actions from a 2013 review and took necessary actions to reduce the risk of the spillway when information became known
- The understanding of the flood risk associated with the dam could be improved by better information sharing, collaboration and utilisation of flood modelling between the dam operator and local governments
- While residents have a good understanding of flood risk, the community does not fully understand the risk of flooding associated with Paradise Dam
- Current risk profile information about Paradise Dam be made easily available and communicated to dam stakeholders and the community
- Dam failure be included as a separate risk within the local and district disaster management plans for North Burnett and Bundaberg regions
- The Inspector-General for Emergency Management be tasked to monitor, evaluate and report on the progress and implementation of the recommendations that are accepted in full or part by the government
A copy of the review report and accompanying survey is available from https://www.disaster.qld.gov.au/dmp/Pages/default.aspx.