Flood gates open at Callide Dam

WHEN the flood gates opened at Callide Dam yesterday morning Banana Shire residents could have been forgiven for fleeing to higher ground.

It was just less than a year ago, on February 20, 2015, that many residents in Biloela and along the Callide Dam had their homes, crops and livestock damaged or destroyed by flood water during Cyclone Marcia.

The force of the water was compounded when the automatic gates of the Callide Dam opened and sent the equivalent 1.8 Olympic swimming pools down the Callide River.

But yesterday was a very different story. At 1.30am the dam did reach 100% capacity, but SunWater operators manually opened the gates, releasing 10,000-14,000 megalitres of water.

>>Engineer says Callide Dam review was flawed

"The conditions meant it was safe to manually open the gates", according to the Banana Shire Council deputy mayor, something SunWater said was too dangerous to do last year.

The wall of water was what caused all the damage and forced an inquiry into the how SunWater operated the dam.

But the inquiry only found that SunWater operated the dam according to the emergency management plan.

A SunWater spokesperson said the difference between this event and last year's was because it "was not a cyclone".

"Callide Creek can maintain (10,000-14,000 megalitres) down the stream but last year it had 20,000 megalitres or more and it was a 30ft wall of water," deputy mayor Warren Middleton said.

The main finding from the inquiry was the poor communication between SunWater, Banana Shire Council and local residents.

"I think (this year) it has worked well. SunWater has been very obliging and we have been able to contact them all through the night," Cr Middleton said.

"We only had two calls all night. Everyone else got the information off our Facebook page."

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