Damage at West End Autos during the 2011 Brisbane floods.
Damage at West End Autos during the 2011 Brisbane floods.

Dam engineers ‘saved us billions’: Court

DAM engineers at Wivenhoe and Somerset dams saved southeast Queenslanders $5.5 billion in property loss and damage during the January 2011 deluge, yet were attacked by "armchair critics,'' a Sydney court has been told.

David Williams, for Sunwater, said the dam engineers in control of the dams during the massive rain event operated the dams in accordance with the design and intent of the dams.

The men also acted in accordance with recognised flood operations practice and operating procedures, he said.

Mr Williams said, in doing so, they reduced the level of flooding in the Brisbane CBD by approximately two metres.

"Based on the then current damage curves, this resulted in savings in respect of property loss and damage of up to $5.5 billion,'' Mr Williams said.

Yet the flood engineers were attacked by "arm chair'' critics including one from America who constructed an alternative flawed approach, "foreign to reasonably competent flood engineering practice and inconsistent with the manual.''

The class action in the NSW Supreme Court has been brought by Maurice Blackburn lawyers against the state of Queensland as operators of the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams during the 2011 floods.

Weeroona Hotel Motel at Goodna during the 2011 floods.
Weeroona Hotel Motel at Goodna during the 2011 floods.

Maurice Blackburn lawyers are arguing that dam operators allowed too much water to build up in the dam forcing them to release large volumes which allegedly contributed to downstream flooding.

That flooding caused extensive damage in Ipswich and Brisbane and other areas before peaking in the Brisbane River on January 13, 2011.

Mr Williams said the alternative model proposed by critics was at complete odds with proper operating procedures.

The alternative model was to say to oneself _ "I might get a great flood'' _ and then begin cleaning out the dam storage compartments by dumping a large volume of water on downstream rural communities and flooding them.

Yet the purpose of the dam was to protect those very communities from flooding, Mr Williams said.

The hearing continues.



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