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Lessons from QLD disaster: Don’t let Warragamba get beyond 70% full

Man made climate change is now occurring and inevitably going to get worse because we are selling all the coal we can produce and a carbon tax deterrent is not yet in prospect. Every second car is now a gas guzzling 4WD and very few people are prepared to change their lifestyle.

We can therefore assume that the storms associated with climate change will get worse rather than mitigate. We have not seen the last of the storms currently lashing us. In fact, they are likely to get worse at both extremes of fire and flood.

Hopefully, the commission set up to investigate the QLD floods will ask why the Wivenhoe Dam on the Brisbane River was allowed to get completely full at any point, let alone before the first storms hit.

So far Sydney has been spared this disaster but already television stations are showing what could happen downstream from the Warragamba Dam if similar disasters befall us.

Maybe we should be looking at letting water out of the Warragamba if it gets to 70% full, say so that if a massive storm does hit upstream, the Dam can act as a surge tank to avoid catastrophe downstream on the Hawkesbury/ Nepean plains, Sydney’s food bowl.

All new medium density developments have to install surge tanks to keep the first few minutes water from a bad storm out of public waterways and the infrastructure. All our Dams should be made to work like that, particularly now we have the desalination and water recycling alternatives.

In addition, we need more dams to help with this disaster abatement and not less. I know that dams are not good for the environment but they will help with disaster relief and that is where our focus should be until we can turn back climate change which is becoming increasingly unlikely.

Photo credit: Tatiana Gerus

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