Media Statement from SEQ Water

26 September 2012
Statement by Seqwater Chief Executive Officer Peter Borrows

Seqwater has taken the appropriate time to review the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry’s final report before making this statement.

Seqwater is acutely aware of the impact of the January 2011 floods and the devastation caused which is ongoing for so many in our community. Seqwater is implementing the recommendations in the Commission’s interim and final reports with much of this work already finalised. Seqwater will continue to work through the small number of additional recommendations regarding Seqwater which are made in the final report. The Commission has in no way concluded that there was any negligence in Seqwater’s management of the January 2011 flood event. Seqwater does not waver from its belief that its engineers did an extraordinary job in the most difficult and demanding circumstances and that Wivenhoe and Somerset dams were managed appropriately during the January 2011 flood.

Seqwater notes the Crime and Misconduct Commission last month determined there was no evidence to suggest any wrong doing by the engineers in relation to the preparation of reports and evidence provided to the Inquiry. Seqwater also notes an independent review of Seqwater’s report into the January 2011 flood has strongly supported the decisions made and actions undertaken by the engineers. The review by the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was released this week. Seqwater has always taken the view that the operation of Wivenhoe Dam during the January 2011 flood event and the release strategies adopted by its engineers significantly mitigated the flood. The independent expert retained by the Commission, concluded that, in light of the information available at the time and allowing for the limits of the strategies in the Wivenhoe manual, the flood engineers achieved close to the best possible flood mitigation result for the January event.

Furthermore, four other highly respected independent experts who appeared at the Commission support Seqwater’s view that releases actually made by the flood engineers were appropriate and reasonable.

Seqwater is confident that its position will be justified if the matter ever comes before a court.

It is important not to lose sight of the magnitude and rarity of the January event. It was the largest flood inflows that South East Queensland experienced in more than 100 years. Two major rain events, both the equivalent of the 1974 flood, occurred across Wivenhoe and Somerset dams and catchments less than 30 hours apart. It is also important to note that despite the extreme nature of the event, the flood levels in the City reaches of the Brisbane River were around one metre lower than the peak level reached during the 1974 flood.

Media note: Seqwater does not intend to provide any further comment. Media contact: Mike Foster, Seqwater Communications Manager m: 0425 250 394 e: mfoster@seqwater.com.au

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