Paradise Dam on the mighty Burnett River has now released more water than it can store at its reduced capacity of 170,000 megalitres.
Bundaberg farmers who started the water year on just 22 per cent of their allocations have been provided with a stay of execution, with widespread rainfall across the Bundaberg region and the Burnett River catchment.
Many farmers were facing significant crop losses across the region prior to the much-needed rain.
Despite assurances from the Queensland Labor Government that a decision about the future of Paradise Dam would be made before Christmas, it looks like Santa Clause will have come and gone before we see any leadership on water security in this state.
But Paradise Dam isn't the only headache for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her government, nor the only symptom of the lack of investment and priority placed on water security in Queensland during the past 30 years of Labor governments.
A recent report by the Queensland Audit Office has raised serious questions about dam safety and monitoring in Queensland.
The Auditor General's report highlights that the Department of Water, which is responsible for regulating dam safety in Queensland, is neglecting its responsibilities for monitoring dam operators and ensuring compliance.
The report found that one dam was 14 years overdue for its safety and monitoring compliance report.
Queensland has 107 referable dams which are owned by state-owned entities, such as SunWater and Seqwater, local governments, private owners and industry.
An estimated 790,000 people live downstream of dams and would be at risk if these dams were to fail.
The Auditor General's report found that eight spillways needed to be upgraded by 2025, and 30 by 2035 - costing a total of $3.1 billion.
But the Department was not effectively monitoring progress to ensure those upgrades would be completed by the deadlines.
The absolute debacle that has been Paradise Dam could very well play out in other regions across Queensland - simply because the Government won't, or is incapable of, doing its job.
And its not just existing dams that are a headache for the Premier and her Government. South east Queensland and Brisbane are quickly running out of water.
Despite widespread rainfall across the state, the main storages that support Brisbane and the greater south east sit at just 63 per cent of capacity.
Somerset is at 75pc and Wivenhoe Dam is at 46pc.
The Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher, in response to questions about lack of water security for Brisbane responded by saying "there is a 60pc chance of above median rainfall from November to January this year".
The Minister might as well just do a rain dance for all "median rainfall" predictions are worth.
The problem is, during the past 30 years, there has been a complete lack of planning and foresight into our future water needs by successive Labor Governments.
The last dam built in Queensland was Paradise Dam in 2005 and we all know how that turned out.
The situation has become so dire that the Government is now investigating whether to restart the controversial $2.6 billion Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme - all the while, in other areas, fresh water is let run out to sea.
The much-vaunted Southeast Queensland Water Grid commenced in 2006 by Peter Beattie is a $ 9 billion white elephant, with existing storages being unable to keep up with demand.
The Gold Coast Desalination Plant, which cost $1.2 billion to build and sat mothballed for nearly 10 years, can only process 125ML per day at a cost of over $5000/ML compared to $250/ML out of dam storages.
During the Queensland State Government's successful 2032 Olympic games bid, it committed that it could "guarantee the safety of water supply".
Given that the SEQ's population is expected to grow to 6.5 million in the next decade and reach 7.9 million by 2041 it is uncertain given the current lack of investment in water security how all of these people will be kept watered.
But Queensland Labor and Annastacia Palaszczuk aren't the only ones who think that water just magically comes out of a tap.
The new Premier of NSW, Dominic Perrottet, looks likely to walk away from critical water infrastructure projects announced during the height of the drought in 2019.
After widespread rainfall and floods, water storage projects don't seem to be so important until the next drought - which will be right around the corner.
It would appear that the Mole River Dam west of Tenterfield and the raising of Wyangala Dam could be back on the chopping block, while the proposed Dungowan Dam looks like it won't get out of the starting blocks.
Of course, the Greens, who would like us to think they only bath in their own tears, are highly vocal about any form of water storage investment, anywhere or at any time.
They are also the first to cry for the environment in the middle of the drought and when fresh water has let run out to sea.
Critics of water storage investment are quick to point to the costs and economic returns.
Unfortunately, under the Council of Australian Governments (COAGs) National Water Initiative (NWI), which was developed and implemented in 1994, this requires that all water storage projects only be developed if they are "fully cost recoverable".
If the same restrictions were placed on new schools, hospitals, bridges or roads - nothing would be built.
Forcing an economy building asset to be fully "cost recoverable" whilst other forms of social infrastructure are valued purely on the votes, they can harvest is fraught with danger.
Placing artificial restrictions on the conservation of the one resource we all depend on - to drink, clean our teeth, shower, flush our toilets, clean our streets, water our lawns and, oh, to grow our food - is an exercise in self-inflicted madness.
Perhaps we could just mandate rain dances at the start of every summer while our water infrastructure crumbles and storages runs dry.
When we all go thirsty - we can just blame it all on the weather.
- Tom Marland, Marland Law Agribusiness and Advisory principal
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