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City known for its rum remains knee-deep in problems with water

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Bundaberg’s future could depend on two major projects – one intended to hold water in, the other to keep it out.

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Safety concerns at Paradise Dam, near Bundaberg, prompted the State Government to order the dam wall be lowered. While controversial, the work to lower and recap the spillway is almost complete: a 60cm thick crust of concrete has been constructed on the dam wall, finalising a 5.8 metre lowering, with steel anchors reinforcing the dam base.

“These works, based on the advice of multiple experts who recommended immediately lowering the dam wall, have been a vital first step toward ensuring the safety of the Bundaberg community,” Water Minister Glenn Butcher said after a recent visit.

“The risk of dam failure has been reduced significantly, however, the works to date are only interim steps. More remediation will be needed to fix the dam long-term.”

While the government and other stakeholders prepare a business case, to be able to decide on the long-term solution by the end of the year, a nearby project has a plan but not enough funding.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said Labor had backed construction of the Bundaberg flood levee not only to prevent inundation but provide economic stimulus.

However, the committed state funding is dependent on matching funds being provided by the Federal Government, which recently asked for more information.

The upcoming federal election is expected to put the project back on the agenda but Miles said there was an opportunity now to help Bundaberg recover from the economic downturn of the pandemic.

“By delivering 679 jobs, the flood levee will be a boon for tradies, concreters and manufacturers,” Miles said.

“It is at the top of our disaster recovery Infrastructure Priority List and we are fighting for the Commonwealth to step up and deliver their half of the funds so we can deliver this in time before we see another unprecedented flood.”

Miles said Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey expected the levee, if funded and built, to revitalise the city, becoming “the Bundaberg promenade, if you like”.

“We share Bundaberg’s bold vision for the town, just as we support the aspirations of all of our regional centres,” Miles said.

In parliament today, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Queensland had struck a deal with the Commonwealth to raise the Rookwood Weir, near Rockhampton, to provide another 86,000 megalitres to water users.

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