RECEDING: Baroon Pocket Dam is at 64.9% capacity and no significant rainfall is expected.
RECEDING: Baroon Pocket Dam is at 64.9% capacity and no significant rainfall is expected. Warren Lynam

Dwindling dam’s water goes south

HOT, dry conditions have sent Sunshine Coast dams to their lowest levels in more than a decade, yet the region continues to pipe water to Brisbane.

Baroon Pocket Dam, which is the biggest supplier of water to the Sunshine Coast, was at 64.9% yesterday.

This was nearly 10% lower than North Pine Dam, which was at 74.3%.

But every day three megalitres of water is pumped out of Baroon Pocket Dam along the controversial Northern Pipeline into North Pine Dam.

A South East Queensland Water (Seqwater) spokeswoman said once Baroon Pocket dropped to 60%, the current operation would be reviewed.

"Our regional water security remains high," she said.

"The Sunshine Coast no longer has to rely on its own local sources of water. It is part of a much larger integrated bulk water supply network."

In 2009, the then grid CEO Barry Dennien said the trigger to consider stopping sending water to Brisbane would be when the dam levels were lower than Brisbane's or were less than 70%.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the Sunshine Coast is heading for a drier than average autumn and there is the possibility of an El Nino situation later in the year.

Senior climate liaison officer Jeff Sabburg said the seasonal climate outlook for autumn showed a 60 to 65% probability of being below the median rainfall.

For Maroochydore, the seasonal median for autumn is 535mm.

Typically, the months from July to October are even drier.

The longer term climate outlook also shows an "increased chance of El Nino from winter", which is "often, but not always, associated with below-average rainfall during the second half of the year".

"The last El Nino to have a strong impact, including decreased rainfall, above normal daytime temperatures and an increased risk of drought, was the 'weak' El Nino in 2006-07," Mr Sabburg said.

A spokesman for Energy and Water Minister Mark McArdle said the trigger to begin considering moving water from Brisbane was now when Baroon Pocket reached 60%.

"It may be necessary by around mid-June if there are no significant inflows," he said.

"However, decisions about the movement of water throughout the integrated bulk water supply network are the responsibility of Seqwater."



Baroon Pocket: 64.9%

Borumba: 77.6%

Lake Macdonald: 55%

North Pine: 74.3%

Water grid (encompassing 12 dams across the South East): 86.7%

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