Baroon Pocket Dam over spilled for the first time in three years after heavy rain in March. It remains at just under capacity allowing water to be pumped south to cover for maintenance work at North Pine and Mt Crosby water treatment plants.
Baroon Pocket Dam over spilled for the first time in three years after heavy rain in March. It remains at just under capacity allowing water to be pumped south to cover for maintenance work at North Pine and Mt Crosby water treatment plants. Contributed

Coast dams overflow south to boost grid

SOLID autumn rainfall on the Sunshine Coast could not have come at a better time for Seqwater as it undertakes maintenance on different sections of south east Queensland's water grid ahead of the dry winter months.

May alone saw 237.2mm of rain fall at Sunshine Coast Airport against a monthly average of just 152mm.

The consequence of solid rain across the region has left our dams all close to full or overspilling with Baroon at its fullest in three years ahead of winter.

At one point last year the dam's level dropped to around 40 per cent of capacity.

Low levels in the Maleny dam had forced Seqwater to pump water north to the Sunshine Coast throughout summer.

However with it now at 99.1 per cent, the flow was reversed mid-May to compensate for the loss of supply due to maintenance works being carried out at the North Pine and Mt Crosby water treatment plants.

"We expect to turn around the water grid and resume moving water north from Brisbane to supplement Sunshine Coast supplies by mid to late June once the works have been completed," an Seqwater spokesman said.

"The new normal operation mode for the water grid will continue to be moving water north from Brisbane unless Baroon Pocket Dam is full or close to capacity.

"Maintenance works will also be undertaken at the Sunshine Coast's major treatment plant at Landers Shute in the second half of the year, which will require Seqwater to increase the amount of drinking water sent from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast."

Despite Borumba, Cooloolabin and Lake Macdonald all being more than 100 per cent full and Poona, Ewen Maddock and Baroon Pocket in the mid to high 90s Seqwater said it would continue delivery of $20m worth of infrastructure works to increase the grids capacity to move more water into our region when required.

The spokesman said during the past three years with poor wet seasons and record low inflows, it had been shown the water utility had been shown it can't be complacent and that dams on the Sunshine Coast can drop quickly.

On the Gold Coast the Tugun desalination plant was being run for the longest continuous period of operation in a decade due to the Mt Crosby upgrade.

Baroon Dam was holding 60,438 megalitres yesterday morning and was at 99.1 per cent capacity. Borumba was recording 46,057 megalitres at 100.1 per cent, Cooloolabin held 8169 megalitres at 100 per cent, Ewen Maddock 16,230 megalitres at 97.8 per cent, Lake Macdonald 8277 megalitres at 103.2 per cent and Poona 618 megalitres at 94.4 per cent.

Borumba, Cooloolabin and Lake Macdonald were all over spilling.

The latest Bureau of Meteorology forecast gives the Sunshine Coast only a 40 per cent chance of exceeding median winter rainfall.

The winter outlook released yesterday said southeast mainland of Australia was likely to be drier than average.

"June has high chances of being drier than average in the southeast mainland, and is also likely to be drier across much of central and western Australia, except the southwest," the report indicated.

"Winter days and nights are likely to be warmer than average for most of Australia, except parts of the far north.

"Broadscale climate drivers, such as the El Nina Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole, were forecast to remain neutral during winter lessening influence on Australia's climate