Dam good job

By YVONNE McLEAN

CONSTRUCTION work on raising the Hinze Dam wall to its final stage three could begin very early in 2007.

This was the good news for the Gold Coast's present and future water source following approval by the State Government's Natural Resources Minister, Henry Palaszczuk, for the final planning for the dam wall to be fast- tracked.

Construction will be designed for purposes of water storage and flood mitigation.

Council's water supply spokeswoman, Cr Daphne McDonald, said in an immediate response to the government's decision that the dam work must go ahead, the council had allocated $20,000 to the cost of a report on two vital aspects before work plans were drawn ? the environmental impact and a wall safety study.

"Both these reports must be before council by May next year," she said.

Crusader for the raising of the Hinze wall to be rated more important than other water supply research, Cr Ted Shepherd said he was elated by the government's attitude.

He said there was every possibility construction work would get underway in January 2007.

"At the same time our officers will consider pumping the huge resource of recycled water into the downstream creek from the spillway," Cr Shepherd said.

"This would remove fears the community may have about an alternative of pumping recycled water into the upper reaches of the dam itself.

"Recycled water would replace the environmental flow council is obliged to daily release from the dam, saving up to 13KL a day," he said.

At this stage, there is no definite costing of the raising of the dam wall, estimates are around $104 million.

The final cost hinges on funding coming from accrued infrastructure charges, if and how much government subsidy would be available, or if council takes out a specific loan.

Also signed off at the final sessions of council before recess was a May 2006 deadline as to where the proposed desalination plant, a huge building at a big-ticket price, would be located.

"Multi-millions of dollars have been tossed around about the cost of the desalination project, from $200 million to $400 million ? but it's all guesswork," Cr McDonald said.

"Desalinated water will always be an emergency source only, and if it rains 'cats and dogs' during a return of a wet season in January, and Wivenhoe is topped to capacity, desalination may well take a back-burner role."

Cr McDonald said the state of the Wivenhoe Dam was the linchpin in the decision-making of a number of councils in the southeast.

"The Gold Coast has cut its daily consumption from the Brisbane Valley dam from 35KL daily to 35KL, more than the 15 per cent reduction in usage sought by SEQ Water," she said.

Cr McDonald warns that if no heavy rain replenishes Wivenhoe in January, hand hosing could be out, and the bucket brigade in.

No decision on future restrictions would be made just yet.

The Hinze Dam was constructed in 1976 and raised to its current height in 1985.

The dam is, and will continue to be, the Gold Coast's major water source.

Based on a recently completed review of the yield from the dam, the existing dam can safely supply 191ML of water per day.



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