Flood threat from leaking dam stabilises after overnight evacuations


“Immediately below the dam is a levy bank … its holding capacity is said to be about 50 megalitres and it is containing the spill from the dam.”

Given that there had been no significant increase in the rate of water pouring through the wall, the dam level is expected to gradually drop to that of the hole, he said.

However, if the dam did fail, the engineer said most of the water would spread across an open paddock beyond that.

“The situation out here has certainly stabilised,” Cr Gow said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation.”

In updates on Saturday morning, the council said the dam level had dropped by half a metre in three hours. The 430-megalitre dam, located on private property, had been full and was estimated to be two to three metres deep before the hole appeared.

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“Residents who have been identified as being at risk of impact from water from the dam if it fails have been directly notified and evacuated,” the council said.

“If you have not been directly notified by Queensland Police Service to evacuate, you do not need to evacuate at this stage.”

A “small collapse” in the wall about 10.45am had led to a slight increase in water flow but this was still occurring at a “controlled rate”.

Police door-knocked 12 homes within the immediate threat area overnight and into Saturday morning to ensure the residents were heading to safety.

An emergency declaration remained in place for the immediate area at 6pm on Saturday but an evacuation centre set up at Warwick Christian College had been closed.

Cr Gow, who had taken charge of the Warwick-based disaster management centre from mayor Tracy Dobie, said the owner of a neighbouring chicken farm had been allowed to return to their property to take care of the animals.

“We’re very carefully … and gradually getting back to normal,” Cr Gow said. “The mayor was up all night.”

Cr Dobie earlier expressed confidence that people living downstream from the dam would get out in time, and that any deluge would dissipate quickly.

“This is their land, they know what happens, and they will do the right thing and know where to go,” she said.

Shortly after 6pm on Saturday, police said assessments throughout the day had not found any “serious breach” of the dam wall.

“Residences within the declaration area will remain evacuated until the threat eases. Roads also remain closed,” they said.

“Police are working with relevant authorities to ensure all precautions to ensure community safety are undertaken.

“Members of the public are urged to remain clear of the declaration area.”

The scare followed a wet start to the month that brought flooding to the region and broader southern reaches of the state.

As much as two years’ worth of drinking water have flowed into Leslie Dam, near Warwick, bringing the rainfall totals for the first two months of 2020 close to those for all of 2019.

Major flood levels were expected to peak in Chinchilla and Condamine over the weekend as the south-east began to dry out after its drenching.

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