Model trumps observation – dam operator caught in fabrication

From

Operator of dam ‘invented’ rain data

Hedley Thomas, National chief correspondent March 26, 2011 12:00AM

EXTREME rainfall so rare it happens on average once every 2000 years has been “invented” by the government operator of a major Queensland dam as part of its explanation for releasing huge volumes of water that caused most of Brisbane’s January flood.

The claim by SEQWater in its official report that a “one-in-2000-year” rainfall event occurred over the Wivenhoe Dam at a critical stage on January 11 has been widely reported in the media and cited by senior public servants to justify the near loss of control of the dam at the time.

But no such rainfall event was measured by any rainfall gauges. Instead, the claim was manufactured by SEQWater after it modelled the rapid rise of levels in the dam, repositioned rainfall data to an area immediately upstream of the dam, and then doubled it.

After extrapolating in this unusual way to achieve an extreme number, the SEQWater report states: “Rainfall of this intensity and duration over the Wivenhoe Dam lake area at such a critical stage of a flood event was unprecedented.

The technical report by SEQWater shows it relied on a manual gauge of dam levels, not the actual rainfall in gauges, to extrapolate data to claim the occurrence of a one-in-2000-year event.

However, in doing this, SEQWater disregarded the data from a nearby electronic gauge, which showed dam levels lower than those in the manual gauge.

Full story here

=================================================================

My heart goes out to the people of Queensland and in particular, Brisbane, where I visited last year. Heads should roll over this. h/t to WUWT reader Betapug

UPDATE: Reader Frank K points out this article by skeptical cartoonist John Cook in ABC:

http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2011/01/17/3114597.htm

The headline:

The essay was also posted on his antithetically named “Skeptical Science” blog:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/OK-global-warming-this-time-its-personal.html

He’s right about one thing, this event IS personal, and preventable. And, I’m willing to bet there will be scads of very personal lawsuits by people who have been grievously harmed by the government ineptitude in managing the dam.

If Mr. Cook has any integrity, he’ll retract his story. But, I doubt he will.

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171 thoughts on “Model trumps observation – dam operator caught in fabrication

  1. when people begin suffering actual, measurable economic losses, or even loss of life, as a result of mann-ipulated data, we’ve gone from “just” fraud to… something else.

  2. So all that dramatic flooding we saw in TV news was not due to AGW induced rain, but was due to operator error at a dam? WOW!

  3. All designed to make the flooding in QLD “worse than expected” (Shame about 1974, 1951….and all the way back to 1870). And in Victoria and the snowy mountain hydro plant doing “odd things with water flows” (I don’t have the details anymore, but basically, hydro plant “1” was at full chat, during the flooding downstream).

  4. If I read it correctly, the article states “the Brisbane flood” damage was caused by the dam operation.

    The loss of life was in other parts of Queensland and not impacted by dam operations.

    The flooding in Brisbane came with plenty of warning and was only property damage.

  5. Strange. A graph of flood levels measured on the Brisbane River, dated 28/05/2010 and issued by the Australian Bureau of Meterology shows an equal level of water rise in about 1975 as well as three similar earlier 19th century cases, plus a further two substantially larger events, these being in about 1842 and 1892. (The graph has not been scaled so as to allow for accurate date back-tracking.) That is the difficulty of these once-in-2000-year events. They occur so darn often!

    Geoff Alder

  6. Someone just demonstated the qualities to become a climate scientist, and IPCC Lead Author

  7. I am sure I remember reading at the time there was an embargo on releasing water from dams due to forecast droughts expected as a result of global warming. It seems they eventually had no choice but to release water to save the dam. I feel it was the government that was at fault and this was an attempted cover up.

  8. Are there any Aussies out there who are familiar with
    Australian liability laws that would apply to SEQWater
    operators and any “harm” the folks downstream might
    claim ?

  9. From the article:
    “Mr O’Brien, who has mounted a strong case that the devastating floods in and near Brisbane would have been almost completely avoided with better management of the dam, said the one-in-2000-year event was an “invention” that could not be taken seriously.”

    Wow! That is a serious charge!

  10. Wow . . . these guys are really channeling their inner climate scientologist. They believe their models trump reality, they make up data as required and can cook-up a cover-up in nanoseconds.

    What next, applying for a Faculty job at East Anglia or Penn State?

  11. And it only took a couple of minutes to find this article on the Brisbane Floods…

    OK global warming, this time it’s personal!

    By John Cook
    ABC Environment | 17 Jan 2011

    Climate change is making a better boxer of Mother Nature. She landed a few good punches last week.
    .
    .
    .
    But now our climate is packing more of a wallop. Fuelled by more water vapour, it’s looking like what we used to call 100-year events will become more common. And that means we’re going to see more and more extreme rainfall and flooding.

    Climate change isn’t just some theoretical prediction for the distant future. Global warming is happening now. Extreme rainfall has been increasing over the last 50 years. As the world continues to warm, we’re going to be seeing more.

    Ironically, we see the flip-side of this as well. Part of the reason that the air is so moist is that the water has been baked out of lands elsewhere. Global warming means more intense rainfall and more intense drought. Again, this isn’t theory – it’s happening now. While the rate of extreme rain events are increasing, we’re also observing an increase in drought severity.


    [sigh]

  12. The flooding in Brisbane came with plenty of warning and was only property damage.

    “only” property damage. well, that makes it all better. so what if we fudged the data, then. didn’t really hurt anything.

    moral relativism is a cancer.

    the data manipulators/fraudsters should all be put in a prison cell next to Madhoff. The only difference between them is that increased taxes are legal, hidden, “somebody else’s money” and largely forgotten about. Their actions, as we are beginning to see, have real consequences for real people, all based on fabricated “facts” to suit the agenda.

    It will continue until we all get serious about holding those responsible to account for their actions.

  13. What fools. And expect similar from California. It has been so long since California has experienced normal/above normal rain fall that there is discussion that the current generation of operators are unprepared for reservoir and dam flood control. Given that most reservoir levels are over 100% average and many at capacity sound judgment will be essential.

  14. Frank K. says:
    March 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

    And it only took a couple of minutes to find this article on the Brisbane Floods…
    =======================================================

    Did you read the article linked to Anthony’s post? The ramblings of Mr. Cook aren’t relevant to this discussion. And neither are his delusions of an atmospheric water-world.

    This is a story about piss-poor judgment, methods used to determine future water levels at a particular site, and the misstatements after the fact.

  15. The flooding in Brisbane came with plenty of warning and was only property damage.

    Thats OK then /sarc off

    If it was your house you would not be so happy!!!!!

  16. The data are sent to a secret prison deep in the Queensland wilderness where they are tortured until they tell the “truth”.

  17. This is a major advance in the “science” of global warming. Rather than putting a lot of effort into truncating data series and building bad models, all you have to do is just to “make it all up”. Think of the labor and watt-hours saved by this new approach. It is guaranteed to win a Nobel prize.

  18. In China, if proven guilty, the dam operator would be made to knee down and then shot in the head from behind. Not my favorite solution, indeed (I am strongly and unconditionally against the death penalty) but useful here to remark on cultural differences. Something of the sort (say, a few years of jail time) would be better than the promotion frequently granted to such types, for their heroic efforts to promote the cause of climate change mitigation through the difussion of an “undiluted message.”

  19. Anyone who doubts that John Cook’s Skeptical Pseudo-Science blog is anything but an alarmist propaganda blog should read his Brisbane tripe. Any remaining doubts will evaporate for all but the most cognitive dissonance-impaired.

  20. It sounds like they started by simply using climate science best practices — namely removing adverse data:

    “The technical report by SEQWater shows it relied on a manual gauge of dam levels, not the actual rainfall in gauges, to extrapolate data to claim the occurrence of a one-in-2000-year event.

    However, in doing this, SEQWater disregarded the data from a nearby electronic gauge, which showed dam levels lower than those in the manual gauge.”

    They then used the commonly accepted next step of adjusting the retained data to suit the model (since data that doesn’t fit the model is ‘obviously wrong’). I think the real innovation here was in adjusting the data by 2X.

  21. “Global warming means more intense rainfall and more intense drought.”

    Yes, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus told you so. Say hello to the fairies at the bottom of your garden for me.

  22. This is what its going to cost if you let these ##### people have any sort of say in government etc. ie Gillard etc. Its going to cost lives and a lot of money. This is probably the first concrete example of what happens.

  23. As I recall Flannery would have been one of responsible by feeding these pea brains (the SEQ Water Board and Bligh warmistas)) the idea that QLD was in for eternal drought. He even published a paper on it probably in another trashy Australian Scientific Journal.

  24. Moral turpitude. Not a phrase I often use, but it sure springs to mind here. Inventing data to suit the model is a novel kind of hindcasting. Not without merit as a speculative device in some circumstances. But not in the ones reported in your post.

  25. jorgekafkazar says:
    March 28, 2011 at 11:18 am

    “Global warming means more intense rainfall and more intense drought.”

    Yes, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus told you so. Say hello to the fairies at the bottom of your garden for me.
    ========================================

    I’m still trying to understand the concept of a “more intense drought”. What does that mean? “AHHH!!!! THE LACK OF RAIN INTENSIFIES!!!! AHHH!!!”

    I’m not sure how that occurs, but I think it has something to do with “super-exponential.”

  26. That dam was designed to be operated only half full specifically in order to provide capacity to the flood control system. The real problem is that the hype over water shortages before the flood resulted in the dam operators being unwilling to release water. Consequently the dam was almost full when the flood hit. At that point there isn’t much that could have been done to make things better. Looks like someone panicked and made things worse.

  27. James Sexton says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I was merely illustrating the typical CAGW cult’s practice of blaming every natural disaster on global warming…especially very soon after a given tragic event. We also saw this with the Japanese earthquake/tsunami. If the hurricane season is above normal this year, guess what??

    Next, they’ll be blaming the UFO sitings in Colorado on global warming…[heh]

  28. In the movie ‘V’ for Vendetta, the government did something that killed a lot of people and cause a lot of harm. In the movie ‘V’ for Vendetta the government did it to sway public opinion about an imagined threat. In the movie ‘V’ for Vendetta the government did it to increase their level of control over the population.

    The movie ‘V’ for Vendetta had a hopeful ending.

    It was only a movie.

  29. pat says:
    March 28, 2011 at 9:54 am
    What fools. And expect similar from California. It has been so long since California has experienced normal/above normal rain fall that there is discussion that the current generation of operators are unprepared for reservoir and dam flood control.

    The dam operators in California have engineered themselves into a potential nightmare. Current main reservoir storage is 80-92% of capacity, with 160% (as of 03/28/11) of normal April 1st snowwater content sitting on the mountains. Just because this is not an El Nino year and it’s past February does not mean that warm/heavy rains are unexpected. Such a disaster struck the state in May, 1955.
    Right now, inflow equals or exceeds outflow with rivers in the valleys backed up near capacity to handle the discharge.
    The dam operators in California are gambling.

  30. James Sexton says:
    March 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I’m still trying to understand the concept of a “more intense drought”. What does that mean? “AHHH!!!! THE LACK OF RAIN INTENSIFIES!!!! AHHH!!!”

    rotflol!

    I’m not sure how that occurs, but I think it has something to do with “super-exponential.”

    In the case of rain in a drought, it might be underlogarithmic. Or hypozero. Climate rhetorics is making great contributes to newspeak.

  31. G’Day Patrick,
    that story was covered by Jennifer Marohasy here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2011/02/questions-over-snowy-hydro-water-management/
    In a nutshell, amping up electrickery production to benefit the shareholders (NSW, Vic & Commonwealth governments), while apparently oblivious to the results downstream.
    I read in another of Jennifer’s blogs that this was in aid of a planned privatisation; more revenues from generation leading to a higher sale price for the utility.
    Another example of piss poor water management and dare I say it another argument for binning useless, bickering state politics.

  32. “However, in doing this, SEQWater disregarded the data from a nearby electronic gauge, which showed dam levels lower than those in the manual gauge.
    Mr O’Brien said SEQWater’s methodology in adopting the data from the manual gauge, ignoring the data from the electronic gauge, and then having to “scale this rainfall up by a factor of two to match the rapid lake level rises” would become a “major technical argument”.”

    Apparently Mike’s nature trick is at work here as well.

  33. Today, Monday 28th March, I received an e-mail from a good friend of mine who had a house in Brisbane, which he’d rented out, and who’d put all of his household goods into a furniture repository whilst he and his wife went off up to Cairns to skipper a yacht running cruises around the Whitsundays for 18 months.
    They’d watched on TV as their house was drowned and then the furniture repository get flooded up to the third storey. Their kit was all on the second storey. He put in his insurance claim (he’d paid for flood insurance) and all seemed to be progressing well until this morning (Aus. time).
    Now his insurance company is withholding all pay-outs pending their own investigation into these revelations concerning the operation of the Wivenhoe Dam.
    If insurance companies are taking this seriously, then so are all of their customers. I know that my friend is deeply concerned.

  34. We had quite a discussion of this matter at Bishop Hill and Pielke Jr at the time, as it appeared that the release to save the dam might have caused the peak. It is worth reading those threads if anyone is interested in the case.

    The main problem was the belief that the water in the dam had a high value for water supply, and that that value remained high even after the government commissioned a desalination plant and a water network permitting inter-basin transfers. The operating rules do not seem to have been changed, as I believe they should have been, after the system changed, because the relative value of water in storage and flood protection capacity should have changed. The evidence is mounting, including evidence that the dam operator warned over the weekend that releases should be made, but they did were not made until Tuesday – in time to produce the peak rather than moderate it.

    All this will be the subject of an inquiry, and the insurers have engaged consulting engineers. They have several million reasons to be sceptical of the way in which the dam was operated. It does appear, however, that belief in a ‘perennial drought’ meme contributed to decision-making.

    It should be interesting to watch.

  35. mit_t says:
    March 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    “Only nuclear power plants are unsafe, hydro is perfect.”

    Oh the irony of it all !!! It is almost mind-boggling!

  36. Define “more intense” and “more frequent”…everybody has a different view as to those and can be applied broadly. My favorite is “Its happening much faster than previously expected.” How much faster? What was originally expected? “Changing rainfall patterns” is another one. When have they never changed? And please tell us just how HOT was the HOTTEST year.

    It proves one thing, when in a group, absurd things can be said that otherwise would be stupid and embarrassing if said as a loner. If there weren’t such a large agenda and people knew they would be backed up, they wouldn’t dare make such ridiculous statements, such as it’s going to getter “wetter and drier”, hotter and colder, snow and no snow”….they basically predict the same things that have been happening forever, EXCEPT, they are “more intense” and “more frequent.” Got it!

  37. I read that a drought is official when an area only receives 75% of normal rainfall and is classified accordingly from moderate to extremely severe. If that is the case, then it explains why so many areas are in a “drought” if 75% is the cutoff. Plus, at some point the area qualifies for Federal Aid. That’s probably a big motivation to fudge the gauge.

  38. Frank K. says:
    March 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    James Sexton says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I was merely illustrating the typical CAGW cult’s
    ============================================

    I know Frank, again, sorry. See my post underneath the one you referenced,

    James Sexton says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:10 am

    @ Frank K. says:
    March 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Sorry, conditioned response to Cook.

  39. Josualdo says:
    March 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    In the case of rain in a drought, it might be underlogarithmic. Or hypozero. Climate rhetorics is making great contributes to newspeak.
    ==============================================

    It sure does. The parallels to the Orwellian thought are remarkable and unmistakable. “Warmcold” and “drywet”………..

  40. In this particular case, we have a fairly immediate catastrophe resulting from placing faith in models over reality. But I suspect the lesson will not be learned, and the green movement will continue to place faith in THEIR models.

    Seems to me this is what happens when you spend too much time sequestered in labs and classrooms and neglect to get out into that world you’re trying to model…

  41. “Someone just demonstrated the qualities to become a climate scientist, and IPCC Lead Author” – Golf Charley

    How can anyone argue with the perfect logic of this statement?

  42. Maybe it is just me, but I detect a distinct rise in the number of news reports recently of government officials “cooking the books.”

    Two days ago in WSJ March 26, 2011, Page 1 lower right.
    “New York Liberals Battle a Bike Lane”
    Mayor Bloomberg’s office stands accused of manipulating safety data.

    Last night I read in Houston Free Press

    http://www.houstonpress.com/2011-03-24/news/women-s-funding-network-sex-trafficking-study-is-junk-science/

    “Women’s Funding Network sex trafficking study is junk science”
    Schapiro Group data wasn’t questioned by mainstream media.
    By Nick Pinto Wednesday, Mar 23 2011
    Which delt with how this group released in a (Waxman) Congressional Hearing the results of a (bogus) study they did. Now they are collecting donations based upon the hearing presentation.

    Now this about the SEQWater report.

    I am not surprised that people cook the books. I am surprised at this small cluster of news stories on it. Maybe its coincidence. Maybe I’ve become hypersensitive to it. Maybe it is just me. Time to collect some data…..

  43. Stephan above…and I agree…let’s go for someone like Tim ‘Ghost Metropolis’ Flannery. His ceasless predictions that major urban areas were going to run out of water contributed to the water ‘hoarding’ that was official policy even as the rain came down in buckets!
    What about the CSIRO? Surely they gave ‘written’ advice to SEQ about hoarding water.
    Wouldn’t it be great to see one of these people at least shamed publicly for their incompetence?

  44. An experienced farmer upstream of the dam, call the hotline on the Saturday to warn them that a major flood was on its way. Because it was the weekend all management personnel were unavailable, and the operator told him to call back on Monday.
    By the time the bureaucrats wandered in to work on Monday, held meetings, drank coffee, ate biscuits, and explored every buckpassing option, the situation was out of control. Finally the Premier ordered panic releases on Tuesday only hours before the dam failed.

  45. James Sexton says:
    March 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm
    I’m still trying to understand the concept of a “more intense drought”. What does that mean?
    =======================================================
    It means that we are ignoring the dust bowl drought of the 1930’s.
    The worst drought in history, lasted around a decade, and displaced over 2 million people….

    …but that didn’t count

    It was before wetdry, warmcold, droughtflood, snowrain was invented….

    …and obviously it’s not as bad as a drought that last only a few months now

    Because that’s history.

  46. Dammed if you don’t, dammed if you do! :)

    Seriously, when can we expect the hyper educated to step aside and let gut feelings and hunches return to management? It wouldn’t take any model or PHD to figure out what needed to be done.
    IMHO….

  47. The future career of Al Gore may be in the modeling business . It is all about beauty and narcissm . Ever read : The valley of the dolls ?

  48. Australia is a pretty open society and this was found out. The worry is that in less open societies or with a little more collusion by those in the know or whatever this sort of thing never comes to light. Does anybody have any suspicions about any such events in their part of the world?

    I am in the UK but I think the liability law is similar in most parts of the English speaking world. My career was in property damage claims for a major insurance company. If I was not now retired I would now be looking into major subrogation claims against these jokers. In practice this would mean their liability insurers having to make major payouts down the line.

  49. All you need to know about Cook’s integrity is that he named his climate-alarmist blog “skepticalscience.” It reminds me of the way some long-shot political candidates in our local elections sometimes just “turn out” to have names that are very similar to the frontrunner’s. If you go ahead and read the article about his blog, you see that he’s clueless enough to boast about how his uncle and father have become true global-warming skeptics, having to run from the room every time they see him at family gatherings.

  50. Sounds a bit like a beat up to me. ‘Invented’ is a nasty word for calculated. ‘Manual’ gauge means one that someone was reading. Now if I’m reading a physical gauge, and the automatic one next door is showing a difference, I’m going to believe the one I looked at.

    The rainfall should be pretty easily calculated from the rate of rise in the dam level. To call this ‘invention’ is a bit over the top.

    And ‘doubling’ is probably a projection of peak rainfall rate from average, which sounds about right.

    A bit of skepticism would be good on this one.

  51. Sorry I am a strong climate change sceptic an a big fan of this site but this story from the Australian is purely political in nature. They are staunchly pro-liberal and this is reflected in much of their reporting. (I am a liberal voter also so I’m normally in support of their position). This is nothing but a shot at an incumbent labor government in QLD.

    I just finished providing a 2 hour presentation on the impact of the dam on the 2011 flood event. I examined the 1180 SEQ Water report in minute detail and I also read Mr OBriens submission to the flood inquiry.

    He shows a very poor grasp of the weather conditions and the current capabilities of weather forecasting capabilities. He clearly has not examined the data from all the gauges during this event nor has he clearly examined the radar loops available. Some gauges recorded rainfall rates of 90mm an hour during the peak period of rainfall. Mount Glorious recorded 410mm over less than 12 hours.

    Who are we to believe 4 duty engineers with over 120 years expeience between them in relevant fields or Mr O’Brien, with a degree in chemical engineering and little if no experience in dam operations.

    When the duty engineers all say the automatic gauge was recording low readings and the manual gauge was more accurate I tend to accept their version as more accurate. Particularly since the flow rates below Wivenhoe would tend to support the duty engineers version. I’m inclined to believe the duty engineers with many years of experience in the relevant field would have been in a much better position to judge which gauge was providing accurate readings.

    The Australians claims are offensive. The dam operators did a magnificent job in preventing a far greater flood in Brisbane.

    Before you draw conclusions familiarize yourself with all the data available rather than believing a political story.

    Frankly, I find it very disappointing that this has been reported on WUWT. I’m normally a big fan but this sort of thing starts to erode my confidence in this site.

  52. Incompetency is probably the cause but also should be checked:
    Engineered to create a Public pro-global warming stance?
    Where does SEQWater make their money from?

  53. In fact I am so disapppointed in the manner you have reported this I’m not sure I really trust your site or your judgement any more. This is a shame as I have previously been a strident supporter of your stance on AGW.

  54. Brisbane floods “Only property damage”? One wonders how many people have and will take their own lives after having lost their homes and all of their personal effects and memories (Many “Property damaged” persons will not receive a cent in compensation or relief from anybody. This is despite the flood donations because the government is handling the cash!).

  55. Gofer,

    “Define “more intense” and “more frequent”…”

    it means “more better”…. :-)

  56. If I recall correctly, the water should have been released earlier when the first forecasts of significant rain were received.

  57. It certainly isn’t unprecedented that the term ‘unprecedented’ has been used in human histroy to inflate and distort data during social movements.

  58. Incorrect Gerald. I suggest you become better informed in relation to the forecasts.

    In fact most models, and certainly all the reliable ones, were forecasting the heavy rainfalls to be South of the dams catchment areas. Earlier releases in those circumstances would have been a very bad move.

    In fact, all but one of the lives lost in the 2011 Brisbane flood event, were from rainfall that fell in the Lockyer catchment BELOW Wivenhoe dam. This rainfall sent a “wall of water” down the Lockyer Valley that resulted in a number of deaths. Again illustrating the point, that releasing more water into an area that was forecast to have the heaviest rainfalls would have been an extremely unwise move.

    Arguments on earlier releases have generally come from people with little or NO experience in understanding of weather forecasting and the computer models used to do so.

  59. So manmade extreme events have finally been observed and verified. In Ontario, Canada we had a major outbreak of ecoli (google Walkerton ecoli) several years ago that killed several people because the operator invented the mandatory water sample analyses taken by an alcoholic brother employee giving the water a safe pass. Did they get jailed? No they were retired and got their pensions. Surely the inquiry came down hard on them? No, they blamed the Provincial Premier Harris for privatising the analytical work – they even subpoenaed the retired premier to testify. Somebody’s got to put a stop to this craziness..

  60. One last thing I would add.

    At the time the duty engineers were looking at these gauge readings the dam level was approaching 75m on the manual gauge going up at a rate consistent with previous readings. The automatic gauge was starting to show inconsistent readings and, if you read the event logs and summaries, is positioned in a place where it would have a tendency to provide unreliable readings when there are significant inflows into the dam. I would presume this is why the manual gauge is also present, to provide more accurate readings when these circumstances arise.

    So at the time, the dam was approaching a critical level where the first of the fuse plug embankments on the dams secondary spillway would have been activated. This would have resulted in a rapid 2000m3/sec increase in the release rate which would have had serious consequences downstream. Under these circumstances you would not ignore the manual gauge which is providing the readings that show a potentially more damaging situation.

    Again it comes down to reading the SEQ Report thoroughly and putting yourself in the position of the duty engineers at the time. Something very few people could do given very few people would have the knowlege and experience the duty engineers present had (a combined 120 years of experience).

  61. Terry Skinner says: “If I was not now retired I would now be looking into major subrogation claims against these jokers. In practice this would mean their liability insurers having to make major payouts down the line.”

    The Queensland Government, I believe, didn’t carry any disaster insurance, (the only state that doesn’t), but relies on the feds to provide disaster funds, so all the reparations will have to come from taxpayers for their (govt) stupidity.

  62. Ah the curse of the dual purpose dam. It cant be both water storage AND a water sink safety mechanism without perfect knowledge of the weather. Climate has nothing to do with it.

  63. Come on OZ, get this sorted, all this “correctness” is now starting to show through into real life. The Poms have just won the Ashes!

    There is something crook going on down under. Its time to get a grip!

    Just how on earth did you end up with a Welsh UK PC PM?

    Come on OZ, we are the old country, why are you overtaking us in the PC, CAGW Stakes? This is not where you should be. We are old and senile, you guys still have a chance, time to repatriate your PM, Barry is waiting.

  64. James Sexton says:
    March 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    “I’m still trying to understand the concept of a “more intense drought”. What does that mean? “AHHH!!!! THE LACK OF RAIN INTENSIFIES!!!! AHHH!!!”

    No James, it means a “Drover’s Breakfast” which consists of nothing more than “a piss and a bloody big look around”

  65. David W

    You are a bit over the top in criticizing wuwt for posting this. It’s up to such as you to put the record straight if that’s what is called for, and you may have just done that (I can’t help retaining a bit of skepticism on topics touching weather records. Don’t forget the agw bunches response to the flooding. Do you buy into the once-in-2000 year flood?). It might be helpful for an expert like yourself to comment on whether this was a 2000 year event. Note Anthony’s heartfelt concern for the folks in Brisbane.

  66. @R.S.Brown March 28, 2011 at 9:37 am
    Queensland has a Professional Engineers Act which makes it a criminal offence for anyone who is not a registered PE to give an engineering service (this includes analysis of engineering data such as rainfall and runoff). The Act specifically states that it applies to the state. Thus if a government minister or senior public servant who is not a registered engineer required the dam to be 100% full (or other operational level) at the beginning of what is classified as the rainy season they are likely to have committed a criminal offence. This also applies to the top management of SEQW the operator of the dam. For registered engineers there is a code of practice and sections of the act stipulating competency. A registered engineer operating the sluice gates would need to be competent in assessing the safety of the dam and the likely affects of dam releases. He would need to put the safety of people before any political considerations ie he would need to disregard any diections given to him by anybody who is not a registered engineer. The act outlines procedure to penalise registered engineers if someone makes a complaint.
    There is no doubt that there has been a failure of operation of the dam. An enquiry has been set up. A number of people should be found guilty of providing engineering advice when not registered but most likely there will be some sort of political whitewash. It is likely that some engineer will be made a scapegoat and deemed incompetent be wrapped over the nuckles by being registered for a short time.

  67. Taniwha says:
    March 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    That dam was designed to be operated only half full specifically in order to provide capacity to the flood control system. The real problem is that the hype over water shortages before the flood resulted in the dam operators being unwilling to release water.

    Didn’t the Qld. premier, a week or more before this event, override the guidelines on the level at which water was to be released and insist on it being sequestered, presumably to hoard it against the oncoming droughts caused by AGW? Isn’t that where blame should be focused?

  68. Of the two sorts of dummy in play here, the dam operator’s variables seem more innocent than The Australian’s correspondent.

  69. You distort we deride says:

    “Of the two sorts of dummy in play here, the dam operator’s variables incompetence seems more innocent at fault than The Australian’s correspondent.”

    There, fixed it for you.

  70. Cementafriend. The dam operating manual specifies the full water supply level of the dam at 67m and has done so pretty much since the dam began operation.

    It is worth noting that this dam went from full supply to 15.2% FSL in the space of less than 6 years last decade prompting a water crisis that the QLD governement spent billions attempting to resolve. In 2007 they released a report looking at proposals to actually increase the FSL from 67 to 69m (or further) to further drought proof SE QLD.

    That some people are suggesting that it should have been dropped to a 64m FSL (emptying 25% of the water supply for SE QLD) because we were in a La Nina shows a poor understanding of the impact of La Nina conditions in QLD. In fact a poster on our Weatherzoen forums looked at the impact of the past 9 La-nina events in SE QLD and discovered only 4 had produced above average rainfall.

    Gary, I am certainly not an expert in this area although I have done a considerable amount of personal research. The computer modelling that was performed to arrive at the 1 in 2000 year rainfall intensity was based on inflows calculatedon the basis of the manual gauge reading. Whilst Mr OBrien disputes the manual gauge was providing a correct reading, I’m inclined to believe it was (as a post above alludes to). I think any uncertainty must reside around what consitutes a 1 in 2000 year event in SE QLD given we have only 150 years of rainfall data. You could also argue any computer modelling must have an inherent degree of uncertainty until tested and proved reliable which couldnt be the case for this particular modelling.

    Having looked at the rainfall data actual observations, I can understand the degree of scepticism given the highest record rainfall during the 12 hour period was 410mm at Mt Glorious, however there were gauges that recorded much higher rainfall rates over shorter periods in the vicinity so I highly the suspect 12 hour rates well in excess 410 mm could have been recorded in some unguage areas with the rapid rise in dam level during that time providing back up circumstancial evidence.

    So I would certainly agree the 1 in 2000 year modelling is far from proven but the assertion that the rainfall rates over the dam were extremely rare is difficult to disagree with and this was certainly a major factor in determing release decisions at the ttime the peak outflow from the dam was occurring.

  71. Historical records show way, way more rain has fallen in the Brisbane River catchment than the 2011 event.

    For instance it is a FACT that in February 1893, 100 inches ( 2500mm ) fell in 4 days in the upper reaches of the Stanley which flows into the Brisbane R, above Wivenhoe. Included in this fall was 36 inches ( 900mm ) in a 24 hour period, a then Australian record.

    No dam, Wivenhoe or otherwise would have stopped this. It is on public record what resulted in Brisbane from this, and apparently there was a bigger flood in the 1850’s according to river heights, but no rainfall measurements were taken back then.

    So it has all happened before and will happen again ( and by the way there was no AGW then !!!! ).

    What has always intrigued me is after the Wivenhoe was commissioned in the 70’s, blind faith has been put into this dam protecting Brisband from everything, and allowed the development of the big Southbank set up in Brisbane, which was a couple of feet under in 2011, but 25 FEET UNDER in 1893..

  72. Firstly about the “only property damage” in the Brisbane flood. Yes it was only property damage and we are all bloody thankful for that. We had enough deaths upstream thank you very much.

    We’re Queenslanders and property and buildings we can and will rebuild and replace. Fires, floods or cyclones, we’ll stand amid the wreckage, roll our sleeves up and build it anew. It’s the loss of our people that we find harder to bear. Houses and cars are just things and easily replaced, but people are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, who are irreplacable.

    For those who take exception to the “only property damage” I ask a simple question. After a flood would you rather have your house gone and know your family is safe or have your house intact and be wondering where your family is?

    David W. As a Brisbanite I would very much like to see the details of the presentation you gave. Most commentary is either short on fact or long on political spin. Have you posted a version anywhere?

    To those in the international community who are concerned for our goverance, don’t worry too much. Victoria has moved away from the Greens. New South Wales has obliterated the Left and the Greens in the election last weekend. Queensland is next. After the next election we will led not by an accountant or lawyer, but by a hands on engineer.

    Federally, Julia and her bunch are on life support and showing no brain activity. If we didn’t have laws against euthanasia someone would pull the plug. Either way, the current government doesn’t have long to live. After that we’ll pass around the hat and send her to somewhere she’ll be appreciated, like Britain. :)

  73. A panel of hydrologists and engineers has categorised the Brisbane River flood as a “dam-release flood”, meaning it was largely the result of massive releases. Official SEQWater data has highlighted concerns the operator held too much water for too long in the dam over a few critical days before the flood, then released extremely large volumes.

    I hope Aussies plan on watching this case with both eyes. These hydrologists and engineers know what happened, but I would be relieved to know there are plenty of amicus briefs filed (or the Australian equivalent) and a fairly cold-blooded team of lawyers who want to throw the book at those responsible for destroying homes, property and infrastructure. Can someone bring a terrorist charge against this dam operator? If this catches the Aus attention, this event will go into the history books; if this does not provoke public interest, then there will be protracted arguments and a cased thrown out on a technicality years from now. I wish you all swift justice down under.

  74. Roger Knights says:
    March 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    As I understand it that is correct. The dam has two rated capacities as it were, 100% which is the level intends to supply water for domestic, commercial and agricultural use and a further higher capacity of 200% intended to protect from flooding downstream.

    It was originally intended that once the dam was at 100% the levels would be reduced to 60% as providing adequate reserve for its purpose and should have been by the middle of last year except the Qld govt, did not allow this on the grounds of the danger of water shortage. So the dam was held at 100%. If it had been kept at 60%, it could have coped with the water inrush much better.

    Over the weekend in question the dam’s chief engineer fearing flood conditions requested authority to open the spillways urgently to cope with coming floodwater. He got no reply because there was nobody on duty over the weekend to authorise it. Had this been done there would have been little or no flooding downstream.

    Instead the dam reached danger levels so the sluices had to be opened causing a disaster.

    This is not the only scandal involving water management there, such as the Snowy Hydro release. it is what happens when you put water management in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats instead of the engineers on the spot who understand what needs to be done.

    Kindest Regards

  75. Go to Google Earth at 27.32S, 152.35E to find the dam. Note that the smaller North Pine dam is some 22 km to the East and at lower altitude – 104 down to 41 m above sea level. The North Pine dam in turn is only 15 km from the sea.

    Surely it should not be difficult or expensive to engineer a Wivenhoe overflow pipes system that takes surplus water to places other than Brisbane suburbs

  76. @David W says:
    March 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I’m sorry, but even if the operators had 2000 years experience between them, that doesn’t mean they handled it correctly. If you’re so current on the facts, why not ask for a guest post and put up some maps for those of us who aren’t Aussies.

  77. What’s with these Southern hemisphere greens? They really hate people don’t they? Remember these are the same types who prevented underbrush culling that lead to the recent massive fires.

  78. crosspatch says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:19 am
    The data are sent to a secret prison deep in the Queensland wilderness where they are tortured until they tell the “truth”.

    Unfortunately our data protection laws in Australia – “in defense of the right of data to express itself freely without coercion of any sort”. Are in their infancy.

    In fact – data has been known to go missing at the back of Pubs, and then found strapped naked to a telephone pole with rude words painted on it’s body.

    In Australia – unfortunately – anything goes.

  79. Gerald Machnee says:
    March 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm
    If I recall correctly, the water should have been released earlier when the first forecasts of significant rain were received.

    I’m on the gold coast and remember at the time wondering why they kept the dam levels so high with all the rain about before the Brisbane river flood.
    That’s all I can say on the matter without becoming irrational.

  80. David W. ,

    Sorry that you are offended and forgive me I’m newer here: Let me get this right there was a flood right? The flood was because of a very high volume release from a dam under the control of someone right? What tools would have availed the controllers of said dam from causing this high volume release? Why exactly should anyone that received damage from these actions be consoled and convinced that the BEST methods were applied swiftly and accurately to minimize the damage?

  81. Mark D. The inflows into the dam for this event were close to double the inflows from the 1974 Brisbane floods which occurred before the dam was built.

    The flood peak for the 1974 event was 5.45m whilst the flood peak for the 2011 with almost double the inflow was 4.45m.

    The modelling based on inflows suggests the flood peak for this event without the presence of the dams would have been 7m which would suggest the dams mitigated a large proportion of the flood event since minor flood level at the Brisbane city gauge is 1.7m and tidal conditions alone at that time would have at least pushed the gauge to that level.

    The maximum inflow into the dam for this event was aproximately 11,500m3/sec where as the maximum outflow was 7464m3/sec.

    I’m sorry people were impacted by this event. My own property was also and I was without power for close to a week. Where people have suffered significant loss questions should certainly be asked. But it is wrong to start pointing a finger of blame and start name calling before you are in full possession of the facts.

    With regards my presentation, once I have added audio to it I will endeavour to post it on youtube. At the moment it is in powerpoint form and a very large file (close to 250mb) and my skills at Broadcasting on Youtube are very limited.

    Again, with regards earlier releases, if you do not have access to the specific forecasts at the time which were all indicating the likelihood of the heaviest rainfall fall moving South of the catchment then you are in no position to assert they should have released more water earlier. The tremendous loss of life that resulted from heavy rainfall in the Lockyer Valley which is below the catchment should at least give you some indication of how dangerous releasing water into areas below the catchment would have been at that time.

    If they had released more water earlier into a saturated lower catchment, already highly prone to flash flooding coinciding with forecast heavy rainfall and a number of lives were lost as a result of that release, the condemnation and criticism would today be far greater than that come from people whose properties were damaged by floodwaters under the current scenario.

  82. Zeke the Sneak:

    I hope Aussies plan on watching this case with both eyes. These hydrologists and engineers know what happened, but I would be relieved to know there are plenty of amicus briefs filed (or the Australian equivalent) and a fairly cold-blooded team of lawyers who want to throw the book at those responsible for destroying homes, property and infrastructure. Can someone bring a terrorist charge against this dam operator? If this catches the Aus attention, this event will go into the history books; if this does not provoke public interest, then there will be protracted arguments and a cased thrown out on a technicality years from now. I wish you all swift justice down under.

    The lawyers thing isn’t really the Aussie style. Nobody really benefits from that kind of approach (apart from the lawyers of course).

  83. David W says:
    March 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm
    In fact I am so disapppointed in the manner you have reported this I’m not sure I really trust your site or your judgement any more.
    ===========================================================
    David, before you give up on WUWT please consider the following:

    1. Anthony put up the article without comment except that his heart went out to the people of Brisbane., and heads should roll over this. Heads probably should roll, but whose heads?
    2. You weren’t moderated to the spam bin, as would happen at some sites if you were critical.
    3. I suspect that most of those reading this thread, including me, don’t know a damn thing about dams (sorry, couldn’t resist). You obviously do. Therefore I, and I am sure others also, put a lot of weight on what you have said.

    You have provided thoughtful balance, and made me think. That’s what I come to this site for, not the endless “it’s worse than we thought” comments.

  84. Ian H says: March 28, 2011 at 7:59 pm
    “The lawyers thing isn’t really the Aussie style. ”

    Yes, but Swiss Re is not an Aussi company, and they might try to avoid paying out a Billion dollars if they can find that the cause was not natural, but rather the result of the actions (or lack thereof) of someone they can sue.

    http://www.swissre.com/rethinking/natcat/Flooding_in_Australia_The_reality_of_a_secondary_peril.html

    Date: 07.06.2007-10.06.2007
    Location: NSW, Hunter Region, Newcastle, Singleton, Maitland
    Cause: Storms, floods
    Insured loss in AUD m inflated to 2011: 1,170

    Changing that ‘Cause’ column would save One Billion dollars of inversors money, even if they spent 170 Million dollars to prove it.

    Who knows, they might just want to have a bit of a look.

  85. David W – thank you for your patient explanations. Don’t forget that some posts here are simply re-posts of purportedly reputable reports. Part of the value of having them here is that interested and knowledgable people can sort the wheat from the chaff.

  86. David W says:
    March 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    ***Incorrect Gerald. I suggest you become better informed in relation to the forecasts.
    In fact most models, and certainly all the reliable ones, were forecasting the heavy rainfalls to be South of the dams catchment areas. Earlier releases in those circumstances would have been a very bad move.***
    I understand that the outlook was for an above average cyclone season.
    Of course Tim Flannery was still talking dry. They were aware that a large amounts of rain could come.

    ***Arguments on earlier releases have generally come from people with little or NO experience in understanding of weather forecasting and the computer models used to do so.***
    Really? I think they should have looked past what the models were doing as the dams were already holding a lot of water.

    It is too late for this now but The Australian on January 13 published an article about a report that advised against building on the flood plain.

    In 1974 I did see the grass hanging from the electrical wires in Brisbane after the flood.

  87. David W,
    I fully support the comments of Old Engineer. Your input has helped (enormously) to get things into perspective. Not everything is reported right, but one of the benefits of a lightly moderated blog is that it offers the ability to shine different lights on an issue.

  88. Just to add insult to injury – my water is supplied by SEQWater, after my local governments water assets were compulsorily acquired by the state government (for an unfair price, I might add). They then created a couple of corporations, installed big-money CEOs and built some shiny new offices. To further insult, they took the advice of Tim ‘1000 years’ Flannery, and built a multi-billion dollar desalination plant (right on the coastline, in the path of future AGW-caused sea level rise), which was finished just in time for the major supply dams to be overtopped with water and flood the community.

    So what we have here is:
    -water assets taken forcibly from local governments, who had paid for them over years with council rates (read: property tax).
    -massive new bureaucracies created complete with new offices, new CEOs and new salary packages for all the staff.
    -huge mailouts of slick glossy brochures informing us of the new corporatised entities which will now be selling us our water (as if we could switch to another supplier!)
    -massive new multi-billion dollar desalination plant which is now quietly rusting by the sea as rainfall reverts to long-term trend

    You might think all of the above sounds expensive. Well, it is. I used to pay about $400 a year for water connection and supply, including no restrictions as we are blessed in my local area with high and consistent rainfall. The prices charged have been increasing by 20% per year, year on year, and now we have water restrictions, despite -as I type- water is flowing over the spillways still. At my last count this is now approaching $1000 / year just for my water. I’ll just remind you that in my local area no new infrastructure has been built, and the local council has had to raise the rates (taxes) on property to make up for the lost income from water.

    All this, courtesy of a combination of inept big spending state governments coupled with a slavish devotion to the AGW scare.

    You might think I’m a lone person raving about this, but every single person I know feels the same way. And I haven’t even brought up electricity prices, also sent skyrocketing from inept governments and ridiculous pro-AGW policies.

  89. The newspaper article makes assertions but does not demonstrate or prove a case against the dam operators methods and claims. From what I have seen of the station data,dam levels and radar estimates of rainfall over the body of the dam and 600 km2 of unmetered catchment,the water authorities findings are solid. The report they released provided a detailed justification for their choice of gauge readings.

    We are in a bad place when unsubstantiated claims in a newspaper are elevated to an authoritative view. From day one,journalist Hedley Thomas has taken a position hostile to the dam operator,if you bother to look back through his contributions.

  90. Charles Nelson and Stephan:

    And how was Flannery chastised for his wrong predictions? Oh that’s right, he was appointed by Julia Gillard as Australia’s chief commissioner of the independent Climate Commission.

    I must be losing it… independent doesn’t seem to mean what I think it means…

  91. Sloppy data and research produces sloppy policy.

    We are all too familiar with such an approach in the USA….so you are not alone down under.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  92. Thanks for the feedback. Like I’ve said in previous posts I’m a huge supporter of Anthony’s blog and his stance on climate change issues.

    I think its very unfortunate that terms like “dam operator caught in fabrication” appear at the start of the post which is probably the part which irked me the most. It is this wording that conveys a very inflammatory impression irrespective of what comes after it and is grossly unfair to the engineers on duty during the floods who I might add do the work on a voluntary basis.

    Given whats been posted here I will make it a priority to get my powerpoint presentation on YouTube to hopefully provide people with a little more detail from which to form a conclusion and potentially come to a more informed position on what factors had to be taken into consideration when the duty engineers were making their decisions.

    I do not argue that their decisions were perfect nor that we can’t learn from this event to get a better outcome in future floods. But, if people were to fully understand the conditions that gave rise to this event and the forecasts and data that were available to the duty engineers I would hope they would be a little less critical of the decisions made.

  93. My Guess in David W is a Qld Gov troll. If Suncorp etc get their hands on this. It simply not affordable

  94. Hey, Frank K @ 12:59 March 28
    Wonder if our rising CO2 levels are due to these aliens sneaking in and dumping their carbon pollution in our atmosphere?

  95. There’s a bit of confusion up above. I’ll tak in general and not bicker over detail.

    The Wivenhoe dam has its main catchment to their north of it, roughly 40 km EW and 80 km NS depending on how you define it. Rain falling to the east, west or south of the dam does not affect its levels.

    Just 2.5 km south of the spillway, that is, below it, a separate river catchment comes in from the west. This is about 20 km NS and 60 km EW, when it meets Toowoomba and its escarpment at the west end. This is the area flooded by names like Gatton and Grantham and Helidon. West of this NS escarpment at Toowomba, the run of the water is further west. So, rain west of Toowoomba can flood Toowoomba but it has little effect on points east of Toowoomba.

    Rain south of Brisbane is mostly taken east into the sea by smaller rivers, though some does affect the Brisbane River, which was the main suburban flooding river. So south of Brisbane, rain further than about 20 km away does not impact much on the city.

    These separate catchments have some importance in the analysis. The Toowomba floods could happen without the Gatton floods, the Gatton floods could happen with nothing to do with Wivenhoe dam and Brisbane floods can be a mix of Gatton and releases from Wivenhoe.

    The important point is that a forecast in the region is critically dependent on the resolution of small distances. An EW error forecast of 10 km in the position of a rain cell can leave Gatton flood-free and Toowoomba flooded, or vice versa.

    Personally, I have doubt that weather forecasting of flood events in the region is capable of this resolution. This places an extra burden on the engineer manager of the Wivenhoe Dam. I have nothing to add whether the correct decision was made at the time.

    I merely note that excess dependence on forecasts at their limits of resolution can be fatal. They were.

  96. Please note that some comments are being taken out of context and need some clarification and the title of the post is also misleading. The SEQWater Report http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/commission/documents/report-append.pdf provides an explanation for the difference in electronic versus manually observed dam water levels. These levels have noting to do with recorded rainfall. The electronic dam water levels are monitored in a location near the spillway outflow and are reported to have been depressed due to the effect of (the not insignificant) outflows from the sluice gates. Anyone familiar with or a smattering of knowledge of hydraulic flow will be able to understand this observation or can pyhsically model it in the back yard. The manual dam level readings were reportedly taken by on site personel against water level markers (common in all large Queensland dams) not affected by hydraulic effects. From those readings, plus down stream river levels, it is basic maths to work out volume changes, inflows and out flows. You don’t need to make anything up.

    I don’t know what the statistical recurrence intervals of a storm of that magnitude are but historical flood data published by BOM would suggest that it is more common that we should be comfortable with and much less than 2000 years. Whatever the number, I think it is fair and reasonable to say that there was a lot of water in the dam and they didn’t make that part of it up.

    There are also radar observations of the storm path and enough local rainfall data to calibrate and verify radar obsevations and the claims in the report. Weatherzone fans have screen caps of the event should there be concerns of cover up.

    At the risk of accusations of obfuscation (again), some additional reading for those unfamiliar with South East Qld. rainfall is here http://www.bom.gov.au/hydro/flood/qld/fld_reports/brisbaneflash_mar2001.pdf
    You can’t make this stuff up and get away with it but you can make wild claims and be found wanting in understanding the information presented.

  97. I would also note that in 1999 there was also a significant rain event that took the dam from 75%FSL at the time to 135% FSL (FSL being the water supply level not including flood mitigation). The inflow for that event was about 85% the size of the 1974 flows.

    This was at the beginning of a La-nina event that lasted until 2001. The knee jerk reaction then could have been reduce the dam level to 75%. Thankfully, given there were no significant floods arising from that event the suggestion wasn’t made. Had they done so though, the city of Brisbane would have been without a water supply by 2007 (or earlier). As it was the dam dropped from 100% in 2001 to 15.1% in 2007 giving rise to severe water restrictions.

    It doesnt take long to transition from La-nina to El-nino and the next rain event is never guaranteed. Those suggesting the dam should have been dropped to 75% FSL before this summer because we were in La-nina conditions have short memories. I pray we are not going to end up regretting the current decision to drop it down to 75%.

    But then I guess if you believe its better to risk running a city of several million people out of water rather than risk flooding 20,000 homes once every hundred years or so, who am I to disagree?

  98. Tom Harley says:
    “The Queensland Government, I believe, didn’t carry any disaster insurance, (the only state that doesn’t), but relies on the feds to provide disaster funds, so all the reparations will have to come from taxpayers for their (govt) stupidity.”

    I think the big issue would be do they have negligence (liability) insurance. A public authority might not but the Dam (damn) operating company might.

  99. a jones says:
    March 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Over the weekend in question the dam’s chief engineer fearing flood conditions requested authority to open the spillways urgently to cope with coming floodwater. He got no reply because there was nobody on duty over the weekend to authorise it. Had this been done there would have been little or no flooding downstream.

    So the first thing the authorities are going to do is ensure that emergency calls in off-hours get automatically forwarded to the off-duty decision-makers’ cell phones and/or computers, right?

    And not just for this dam, but for all dams? And not just for dams, but for all vital infrastructure where fast decision-making is needed (like nuclear power plants,for instance)?

    Never let a good crisis go to waste, right? Right? Hello?

  100. PS: I just posted:

    So the first thing the authorities are going to do is ensure that emergency calls in off-hours get automatically forwarded to the off-duty decision-makers’ cell phones and/or computers, right?

    I should have said that underlings should have their bosses’ home phone numbers, etc., and that in situations where an emergency might develop, such as a dam nearing its limit, bosses should be sure to always have their cell phone “live” and on their person. Further, there should be a rule that in the event the boss is unreachable, the underling can act on his own.

  101. I trust this information will be presented to some legal officers at some time in the future.

    With the entire Board of the water company in the dock….

  102. What David W writes about forecasting is not correct. The average rainfall in the wet months Jan, Feb & Mar is about four times the dry months of Jul, Aug & Sep with May and Nov about the average of these two periods Apr & Dec slightly higher than the average and Jun & Oct slightly lower than average. It was predicted from a change in the Southern Oscillation index in Oct 2010 than the coming six months would have above average rainfall. Dec 2010 had in many areas of South East Queensland a record rainfall in the period back to 1892 when many records began (about 4 times the average). The Wivenhoe dam was 100% full (FLS) at 31st Dec. There could be no reason that the dam at the begining of Jan (the start of the wet season) should be allowed to exceed 100% particularly as the OSI was still very positive and BOM was predicting at that time above average rainfall until at least May 2011. Yet the dam was 116% full on Friday 7th and there were minimal water releases at the weekend.
    People seem to have modelling on their brains, just like the AGW modelling. There is no need to model anything when the evidence from the normal pattern of rainfall is so clear. On any day it did not rain (ie Jan 3, 4 & 5th) or just after water should have been released to clear out some of the excess inflow of December. The heavy rainfall occurred on 10,11 & 12 Jan
    The bad flood was on the 12 Jan mainly due to very high water release for safety. There was no rain from 14th to 19th of Jan.

  103. I forgot to mention that the heavy (record) rainfall in December 2010 saturated the ground so higher than normal dam inflow should have been expected in the early days of January. Another point, the actual rainfall over the three heavy rain days in January (combined a little more than the average for the month) was no where near a record nor was the total rainfall for the month ( about double the monthly average or between half and one third of the record monthly rainfall)
    I suspect that David W is not an engineer but whether he is or is not he needs to be very careful that he does not breach the Professional Engineers Act (Qld). To provide any engineering service (particularly if being paid by the government or by a private contractor) one needs to be a) registered and b) competent. I have indicated elsewhere that I am a registered engineer.

  104. Hi, I am based in the UK and I watched the events unfold in Australia, it was very seriuos and people did lose everything including their lives. My personal opinion is that a cyclone of that magnitude is going to create some havoc. As to the question “did someone goof” in the water management department, I have no doubt that the investigation will give a yeah or nay. I will watch patiently for the outcome. To cry “politics” in the meantime for a particular point of view is perhaps unhelpful as it reinforces the attitude of distrust. WUWT is a forum, it instigates and welcomes informed discussion, it is a very good way of finding the truth, stay calm and use the grey matter god gave us. Keep well and safe.

  105. Andrew30 says:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:28 pm
    Changing that ‘Cause’ column would save One Billion dollars of inversors money, even if they spent 170 Million dollars to prove it. Who knows, they might just want to have a bit of a look.

    This would be cast by the media as the evil insurance cos who do not want to pay for the flooding caused by global warming.

    But the fact is that accountable readings from digital guages were disregarded, a computer program was utilized, figures were doubled, and the homes were flooded by a dam release. If flooding was caused by dam release, insurance cos should not pay. And Australians should be mad at the right people and get the alarmist government out of these abysmal, disasterous water policies. Desalinization plants still cost millions to build here in the US, not billions.

    In Victoria:
    Wik entry for Wonthaggi desalination plant: “The capital cost for the project was initially estimated to be $2.9 billion in the initial feasibility study, this was later revised to $3.1 billion[18] and then to $3.5 billion. After the winning bidder was announced it was revised to $4 billion.”

    Desal plant in El Paso “Constructed at a cost of $87 million”

    Don’t forget to add in the price of constructing the windmills that support the desal plant in Victoria, and how dependable that is going to be. This Stockyard Hill Windfarm project nearby miraculously does not require an EES:

    “In September 2008 the Minister for Planning determined that the project does not require an Environmental Effects Statement (EES), as the site offers scope to adjust infrastructure to avoid significant adverse environmental, heritage and amenity impacts.”

    The Queensland plant cost 1.2 billion, but does that include the cost of renewable energy that has to be part of the package? “The carbon emissions from the desalination plant have been offset with the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs). The RECs have been produced by a range of renewable energy sources with the main source being solar hot water system installations. Other sources include solar photovoltaic, hydro and a small amount of wind.”

    So in Victoria and Queensland, they have simultaneous flooding and water prices skyrocketing by 65%. Australians need to look at the handling of this dam as a microcosm of AGW drought projections in water management. It’s more like massive mismanagement, complete with computer models, sudden splicing of data sets, and a doubling here and a doubling there.

  106. Key dam strategies for Brisbane among censored data
    PARTS of the recently released Queensland flood mitigation manual censored by the Queensland government for “security reasons” happen to contain nearly all the key strategies for Wivenhoe dam, such as the gate settings and water release levels for the days before and during the deluge.

    An engineer associated with the construction of Wivenhoe, who examined the figures yesterday, said Wivenhoe’s gate settings for the weekend before the major flood should be closely examined to ensure the high levels of water in the dam on early Monday morning were consistent with the manual’s operations.

    SEQWater declined to go into detail about the issues, saying they would be dealt with by the commission of inquiry into the floods.

    SEQWater has denied any deviation from the manual or that stability issues with Somerset Dam had any bearing on its operations.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/queensland-floods/key-dam-strategies-for-brisbane-among-censored-data/story-fn7iwx3v-1226001075961

    An uncensored version of the 85-page manual, obtained by The Australian, also highlight

  107. Cementafriend your not even close to being correct on a lot of what you posted.

    Firstly the dam was back at 100% before this event started and didnt hit 116% until 5pm on 8th January and had begun to fall on 9th January before further heavy rainfall forecast to fall South of the dam. If you even bothered to do a rudimentary check of what happened you would have realised that the dam was drained back to 100% after the December event and was back at 100% by 2nd January in accordance with the drain down guidelines in the operating manual. In fact, on the 6th January when the dam hit 67.25m triggering the event (for the dam operators) the dam was only at 101%. Even at midnight on 7th January it was only at 112%. The dam is used for flood mitigation at lower levels not only in extreme flood events you do realise? In fact are you even familiar with the dam operating manual?
    Secondly I’m not providing engineering services for anyone so I dont have to wrry about breaking any laws.
    Thirdly, forecasts are nowhere near accurate enough for the type of decision making necessary to moderate releases in the manner that your suggesting they are capable of. During the December event you mentioned earlier, over 600mm of rain was forecast for Brisbane at varying stages but the dam level never exceeded 70m for that event. I’ve no doubt you would have released significant amounts of water for that event (and probably in October also when the dam level hit 69.5m) and flooded hundreds of homes unnecessarily.
    Fourth, I’m well aware of the ground saturation. It is what exacerbated the situation in the Lockyer Valley (outside of the Wivenhoe Catchment) where so many lives were lost. If ever there was a scenario that highlighted the danger of releasing water below the catchment it was the flooding in the Lockyer Valley. Any releases were only going to worsen the risk of potentially devastating floods downstream and with the rain forecast to move South, further releases would have been extremely foolhardy.
    Fifth, if you believe releasing 50-100,000mL as the event started (from 6th Jan onwards when the dam was at only 101.3%) would have made a difference in the back end of an event where they received a total inflow of over 2.6 million mL (nearly 1 million mL of which came in roughly 24 hours on 11th January) you are deluded. You clearly have zero grasp of the speed and size of the inflows that occurred on the 11th January.
    Learn a little more about the event before commenting. Your comments show a high degree of ignorance.
    Finally what is your background in dam operations that you believe you know more than the 4 duty engineers (who despite comments posted above were on duty from 6th January onwards). You dont really seem to have a detailed knowlege of the events, the rainfall, the dam operating strategies and the factors that needed to be considered.
    Are you perhaps an engineer commenting on a field that is outside your area of expertise (given your comments on breaching the engineers act)? You just seem to me to be another commentator who has had a cursory glance at what happened and because you have a degree or perhaps some letters before your name think that makes you an expert on it. For someone who is portraying themselves in such a manner there are a lot of errors in what your posting.

    This whole thread is truly unworthy of this site. I am thoroughly disgusted.

  108. Thanks David for your input above. As I said earlier, especially here at WUWT, we should be sensitive to overly sensationalist articles. The sort of language in the referenced article should set our BS meters at maximum, regardless of the topic at hand.

    Always, always, you will be able to go back over a situation and with hindsight make a different judgement as to what should have happened. This doesn’t excuse neglect, or interference. But in many critical situations, a judgement has to be made without immediate access to all the information that will be found afterwards, and more importantly without the time available later.

    As has recently been highlighted, “Shit happens”.

  109. Oh and just for clarification for those unfamiliar with the dam in question.

    When you hear about the dam being at 100%, this is the water supply level of the dam which is 1.165 million mL. This water is used to supply a city of 2 million people with their water and came close to running dry in 2007 when it had less than a years supply remaining.

    In ADDITION to this the dam has a further 1.45 million mL flood mitigation capacity taking its total capacity up to just over 2.6 million mL or 225%. This flood mitigation capacity is equal to the total inflow from the 1974 flood event which devastated Brisbane.

    On the 6th January the dam held 1.165 million mL and still had its full flood mitigation capacity available.

  110. David W, don’t forget to mention to readers that the dam is kept at 100% as a matter of policy to keep the desal plant closed:

    “The government’s longstanding policy of operating Wivenhoe at 100 per cent full supply level, with 1,150,000 megalitres of water for urban use (instead of a lower volume to give the dam a larger buffer in addition to its 1,450,000MG of capacity for flood storage) is now highly controversial.

    The policy saves money on the operation of a new and troubled desalination plant at Tugun on the Gold Coast.

    It is a policy that some regard as folly from a public safety perspective, particularly given the change to La Nina, the risk of further extreme rainfall and cyclones this wet season.”

    “Fraser said the agenda was to save money on water costs (which the government had been passing on to consumers), and the largest savings were achieved by keeping Wivenhoe Dam at full supply level, and shutting down those parts of the Water Grid such as the new desalination plant at Tugun.”

  111. If you’re a UQ alumni, there is a panel discussion happening at the university on the 13th April on the issues around SEQ, Water Infrastructure and Climate Change.

    2011 has heralded a number of severe weather events with devastating floods and cyclones affecting many parts of Queensland.
    Join our informed panel as it examines the issue of water management in uncertain times.
    The panel consists of:
    • Professor Paul Greenfield AO, Vice-Chancellor and President, The University of Queensland;
    • Professor John Quiggin from The University of Queensland’s Risk & Sustainable Management Group;
    • Andrew Griffiths, Professor in Strategy and Business Sustainability, The University of Queensland; and
    • Mr Pat Nixon, Water Engineer with leading projects firm Sinclair, Knight and Merz .
    The panel’s discussion topics will include governing our water consumption and supply, creating resilient infrastructure and ensuring this is a reliable commodity taking into account all the recent extreme weather events including drought inland tsunamis, floods and cyclones.

    The date is the 13th April. Would be an interesting discussion, though I assume heavily slanted to the pr0-AGW point of view.

    Link here: UQ Alumni Lunch Lectures

  112. Engineer’s emails reveal Wivenhoe Dam releases too little, too late

    “According to figures from Wivenhoe’s operator, SEQWater, the dam’s capacity went from 106 per cent full on the morning of Friday, January 7, to 148 per cent full on the morning of Monday, January 10, due to the limited weekend releases. Experts have said this severely compromised the dam’s ability to store additional runoff.”

    Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/floodrelief/engineers-emails-reveal-wivenhoe-dam-releases-too-little-too-late/story-fn7ik2te-1225992101146#ixzz1I2E6ieio

  113. David W: I was in Toowoomba when the event occurred. The rain was amazing, it of course ran down to the Lockyer valley etc and eventually reached the dams. The point is the Bligh government was attached to Tim Flannery’s concept of “Global Warming by human C02″ and that you (QLD), were in for a long haul drought. So the SEQ water was indoctrinated to believe by order, and did not release water. You, sir, and your ideas caused death and millions of dollars of cost and your are scared shitless of what Suncorp, and other insurance companies in Australia etc., could do with this site and The Australian’s information. The fact is the Bligh Government believes profoundly in AGW and it’s beginning to cost Australia dearly. ie: Will your government build more dams to prevent this in the future? Answer = NO, hurts green and ignorant labor votes. BTW I used to vote Labor. No More.

  114. Zeke: It was supposed to be released BEFORE but they did not because of the AGW agenda, that is the point.

  115. Yes, dam operators filled it up until the last moment, and then released it. One insurance investigation states:

    “Further on the report, it claims that the properties on the Ipswich area were affected from the Brisbane River flooding. Included in the report too are the city gauge that went as high as 4.5m on January 13 at around 2 am. This was after 30 hours when operators from Wivenhoe released about 9000 cubic meters per second of the dam.”

    The purpose of the Wivenhoe dam was to prevent flooding, according to Aus Andrew Bolt; and that should be the first priority of all dams. The reckless endangerment by the government in running them full in a wet season based on AGW drought models has resulted in destruction and great loss, perhaps not limited to Queensland .

  116. Zeke the Sneak says:
    March 29, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    The purpose of the Wivenhoe dam was to prevent flooding, according to Aus Andrew Bolt; and that should be the first priority of all dams.

    ============================================================

    If that were the case all dams would be kept empty “just in case”.

    Apart from being Australia’s leading climate expert and nuclear expert, is Bolt now our leading hydrologist?

  117. [snip . . ad hom]

    Since I actually work for an insurer I am probably not “scared [snip . . profanity is frowned on here]” about being the company I work for being sued.

    Zeke, the dam went to 148% not because they failed to release water but rather because inflow rates into the dam reached 10,000m3/sec and nearly 750,000 mL of water fowed into the dam. They were releasing in excess 2000m3/sec by 9am on the Monday morning which is considerably more than the peak flow on the Lockyer River below the catchment where so many lives were lost. [you may wish to use consistent units of measurement to make your point more clearly]

    Who are these “experts” that say the limited weekend releases compromised the dams ability to store additional runoff. Its about time they supplied some specific details starting with what was actually released on that weekend, what they think should have been released, what were the weather forecasts and ground saturation conditions below the dam at the time they would have released and exactly how they believe that release would have altered the decision to be made on Tuesday 11th January.

    I refuse to respond to any more idiotic posts on these forums until you guys demonstrate that you’ve actually gone out and learnt something about what actually happened.

  118. Ahh so you snipped “scared….” in my post but left it in Stephans post. Are profanities only frowned upon if some people use them?

    Your also happy to allow Stephan ad hom attacks on me as he did earlier in this thread with “QLD Government troll” but then you snip mine which was probably more accurate given some of his pointed personal posts against me which were clearly made out of ignorance. It seems ad homs are ok for some posters but not for others.

    I’m now done with this blog. You have some good posters here and I will remain forever a climate change sceptic but you are so far off the mark with this topic and your handling off it I can no longer trust you. It makes me very sad as it is like losing a friend.

    [Give me a link to the comment in question and I’ll review it – MikeL]

  119. Here is a few observations made from being on the ground in South East Queensland.

    Blind Freddy would have known the Brisbane River catchment was going to get a flogging.

    In the week or so earlier, a rain depression flooded the Fitzroy River catchment and Rockhampton, Emerald, and other towns went under in record floods.

    This rain depression was heading south, you could observe this on the Gympie weather radar, and the intensity of the rain had not diminished.

    Next the Burnett River catchment got a flogging and Bundaberg went under.

    Next, a bit further south, the Mary River copped it and Maryborough and Gympie went under.

    At this stage, it was pretty obvious the Brisbane River catchment was going to get the same as the rain had not eased up.

    The water in the dam should have been released days before the depression got so far south, and brought back down to the 40% level (drinking water level) as was recommended when the dam was first built. (Over the years they changed the rules)

    SEQ Water took the punt and held on to $500Million worth of saleable water and hoped the rain would go away, but it didn’t.
    End of story.

  120. David W
    Anthony has merely posted the Hedley Thomas article. Your umbrage with WUWT is misplaced. Further your assessment of the events culminating in the Brisbane floods is flawed. Blind freddie could see that heavy rain was on the way and that the releases from Wivenhoe were insufficient over the weekend. The same can be said for the bureaucratic duck shoving which you you seem to be defending. You should think twice before grandstanding at WUWT. http://joannenova.com.au/2011/01/brisbane’s-man-made-flood-peak/#comments

  121. @DavidW
    Whilst I have appreciated your technical input, I havent appreciated your attacks on the ethos of the BLog and indeed it makse me suspicious of your posts in equal measure to your “suspicions” of the Blog.

    Whether you or I or anyone else like this, people are entitled to their opinions (however wide of the mark they may be).

    On topic, the Key questions for me is did the “2000 year flood” data comments alleged actually take place, what was that based on statistically (as I can find nothing to support that view). And more importantly did these “modelled” conclusions prior to the event and during it, contribute to policy decisions that worsened the event.

    That to me is the crux of the issue here, the technical data contributes greatly to that assessment, however the questions do need to be fully addressed in the public domain ,to ensure that this was not the case. In that sense unless you are privvy to the internal contemporaneous information, as that decision making was occurring, then however technically valid your information is (and I do not doubt it). Then you are in no better position to speculate on this matter than any of the other posters.

    The key points still stand and it comes down to either the Australian has evidence to support their allegations or they do not. If they do not I would imagine legal action will likely ensue (almost inevitable I would countenance given the potential public liability issues that may arise).

    Indeed another poster has posted another link, to a further news organisation, making supportive statements to “The Australian” position based apparrently on access to internal emails.

    In Summary knock it off with the attacks on the Site as the site is blameless in re-reporting this issue. You may be correct in YOUR assessment of the realities of what took place (conversely you may not). However that does not render Anthony or the site wrong in any way for covering the story. Further Unlike other Blogs your and other posters views, running counter to the flow of other responses have not (nor should they ever be) edited out or removed. Try that on a number of notable other sites and see how far it gets you.

    Finally thank you for your most valuable information, but stop slagging the Blog off and save your “disgust” for those who should genuinely warrant such displeasure Not Watts!!

  122. Chris in Hervey Bay says:
    March 30, 2011 at 1:58 am

    And Treeman:

    At this stage, it was pretty obvious the Brisbane River catchment was going to get the same as the rain had not eased up.

    ===========================================================

    If it was so obvious, why didn’t you tell anyone?

    I’m sure all the experts would love to hear your forecasts.

    BTW whats the weather going to be on 18 Jan 2012?: just in case we have to prepare for another catastrophe.

  123. ‘urkidding’ – it was obvious to everyone, including me when I drove down the Bruce Highway on the Friday night and noticed the highway was within inches of being cut at Caboolture, yet extremely heavy rain had already been forecast for Tuesday/Wednesday of the following week. The whole place was already at risk of flooding and more was known to be coming.

    The point is that the dam releases across the weekend were not high enough given the widely-known and reported intense rain event about to make its way over the Brisbane River catchments. For whatever reason, the Dam operators were caught short come Tuesday morning when the deluge really hit.

    You might also be interested to know that many people on the weatheraction site correctly predicted what was to happen in the Toowoomba/Grantham area hours before it happened, but were mostly unable to get the warning out.

    I’ll be happy to make a forecast for 18 Jan 2012 on the 15th Jan 2012. That’s what we are talking about here.

  124. Treeman,

    All the avid posters on WUWT are united in their belief that AGW is not happening. The reasons are wide and varied but all get back to that word “Skepticism”. It may be in regard to the theory, or they believe the data is “adjusted’, the credibility of researchers/scientists, or they just don’t like the side of politics they think it comes from. Fair enough, everyone is entitled to an opinion.

    But what we have here is an article written by a person who freely admits he has no qualification or experience in the field, submitted to a reporter who is equally qualified in the field and known for his political views and published in a newspaper renowned for its right wing bias, looking for any opportunity to attack an ALP Government.

    What happened to all that critical analysis you apply to the AGW debate. Every last word was taken as gospel, no questions asked, because it suited you.

    And Anthony didn’t just merely post the article. He made the comment “Heads should roll over this”. Then everybody joined in the fun.

    Was this a “Momentary Lapse of Skepticism”?

  125. The facts are that the Wivenhoe Dam was at 106% on Friday 7th January. Extracts from SEQ Water Media releases as follows:

    MEDIA RELEASE – 8 JANUARY 2011 “At Wivenhoe Dam, all five gates are now open. Releases are expected to reach around 100,000 megalitres a day by this afternoon. ”

    MEDIA RELEASE – 9 JANUARY 2011″

At Wivenhoe Dam, releases commenced during the evening of Thursday 6 January 2011, with all five gates opened by Saturday 8 January 2011. Releases have reached around 116,000 megalitres a day”

    By Monday the dam had reached 145% . Clearly the releases were not enough!

    MEDIA RELEASE – 10 JANUARY 2011 “Although releases are being made, large quantities of water continue to flow into the dams. Water is being held back in order to manage impacts downstream and allow for other inflows from urban runoff, the Lockyer and Bremer Rivers to subside.

Overnight, Fernvale and Mt Crosby Weir Bridges together with a number of local roads became inundated. They joined the others already impacted, including Twin Bridges, Savages Crossing, Burtons Bridge, Kholo Bridge and Colleges Crossing.

In order to relieve the quickly filling flood storage compartment, and with more rain forecast, controlled releases from the dam have been increased today from 116,000 megalitres per day to 172,000 megalitres per day. Further increases to the release rate are planned, to approximately 240,000 megalitres per day by midnight.”

    David W. Again blind freddie can see that the increased release of 240 megalitres per day by midnight on 10th January was two days too late. The impact of the increased release hit Brisbane around 36 hours later, the precise time that the flood peaked. Some people suggest that only with the wisdom of hindsight would the Dam managers have done things differently but I beg to differ and have good reason to do so. Michael O’Brien has touched a nerve and I suggest there will be a few more before this is all over.

  126. You cannot attack Joe Romm for not checking before posting a story and then do exactly the same thing. In fact I notified Anthony of Joe’s pathetic reporting on the Berkeley data issue and quite rightly Anthony pulled him up on putting it up without checking first. Good stuff.

    Now 1 week later Anthony has done exactly the same thing on the dams issue. He has posted what someone else told him clearly without making any attempt to verify it. How is this any different to the rubbish Joe pulled. The weather reports are available as is information on how accurate those reports are. Further there is a report that details every single aspect of this event in detail in the public domain. There is also an event thread at weatherzone.com.au that you can access that gives a minute by minute account of every single detail of the weather event (hundreds of pages of obrservations were made during the event that I spent many sleep deprived hours following).

    I have spent several hundred hours repeatedly pouring over this data before forming a solid opinion and yet there are people here who wish to damn the duty engineers of the dam who have clearly only taken a cursory look at this information and then take ad hom shots at me for my position.

    Please spare me the weather report rubbish. I have followed every severe weather event in SE QLD for a number of years. I have a keen interest in severe weather, climate change and funnily enough dams and rivers. I know what the forecasts were for each model adn each ensemble in this event and what those forecasts were at various times during the event and for previous events and what forecasts were provided to the dam operators. I also know how accurate those models were for this event and for previous rainfall events in SE QLD. It is quite clear from the comments posted here others are not even close to being in full possession of the facts, yet they wish to sit in judgement of those who have taken the time to fully acquaint themselves with the data.

    You cant heavily criticise others for posting stuff without checking and then do the same and not expect me to label you hypocritical. What makes it worse in this instance was this post was a personal attack against the integrity of highly experienced professionals who do this aspect of their work without pay and seemingly without any recognition.

    People continue to post without checking their facts. Yes sorry but I continue to be outraged. You can check any other post I’ve made on this blog outside of this thread and I’ve always supported Anthony’s position on climate change issues but now I strongly disagree on this one not just with what has been posted but how and why it was posted you suddenly find me suspicious.

    And you wonder why I’m upset about it.

    Oh and if you check the story on Joe Romm’s odious blog on the Berkeley temperature data you will find one of my posts ripping into him on his misreporting of that story (subsequent posts were moderated out – fortunately something that doesnt happen here).

  127. JohnB says:
    March 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Federally, Julia and her bunch are on life support and showing no brain activity. If we didn’t have laws against euthanasia someone would pull the plug. Either way, the current government doesn’t have long to live. After that we’ll pass around the hat and send her to somewhere she’ll be appreciated, like Britain. :)

    No John. You keep her! You elected her and her like, don’t blame us! We had 10 years of her sort with Blair (aka B liar) and Brown and have a t last got rid of them. When you had the chance to get rid of her you didn’t take it! She’s all yours.

  128. David W says:
    March 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm
    This whole thread is truly unworthy of this site. I am thoroughly disgusted.

    What would you have Anthony do? Censor this thread (to your liking)? Why this thread and not others? Anthony has a day job and I’m sure does not have time to censor this blog.
    Oh and there are other blogs that do censor. Perhaps you would like those better.

  129. Stephan says:
    March 30, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Urkidding:

    Tim already told you repeatedly DROUGHT!, and has actually published a paper on this, so expect DROUGHT for Jan 18 2012.

    =========================================================

    Looks like you have confused climate and weather.

    BTW, in the article you quote Flannery states ”

    ‘The third phenomena, which Professor Flannery says is the most worrying, is the recurring El Nino weather pattern.

    “That’s occurring as the Pacific Ocean warms up, and we’re seeing much longer El Ninos than we’ve seen before and often now back-to-back el Ninos with very little of the La Nina cycle, the flood cycle, in between,” he said.”

    The next five or six years will prove interesting.

    And, despite all this rain Melbourne’s storages are still only at 54% capacity.

  130. Stephan says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    “My Guess in David W is a Qld Gov troll.”

    Quite possibly. He might even be Anna Bligh’s husband seeing as he’s insisting on remaining anonymous. The one she gave a nice job to as head of the State Department of Climate Change. Even upgraded it recently so he got more staff or a larger office or something.
    The silly moo was on TV back last September telling us that the summer would be very wet and we might get 6 cyclones. On the Thursday or Friday before the floods in Toowoomba on the following Monday the BoM was forecasting widespread heavy rain over SE Queensland in the next 4 days.
    The dam was meant to be kept at 60% capacity for flood control is my understanding, not 100%.
    The bet was to keep the water. Now let’s see. The worst that can happen if we let the water go early is we’ll be accused of wasting some water. The worst that can happen if if we keep it and then have to let it go in a hurry is we flood Brisbane. Hey! That’s a no brainer! Let’s keep the water in the dam.
    As for being led by a hands on engineer after the next election instead of an accountant or a lawyer, I’ll take any of them over a social worker which was Bligh’s training.

  131. David W;

    Everything else not withstanding; The core of the article seems to be that SEQ Water made a claim in their report that a 1 in 2000 year rainfall event caused them to release the water at such a high rate that it caused the flooding.

    It is further asserted in the article that no such rainfall event can be substantiated from local weather stations and rain gauges. It is also claimed that SEQ had to double the interpolated rainfall event from what their level gauges implied to get to such a rate. That would be hard to justify under any circumstances I am aware of.

    Do you concur that they interpolated from their level gauges, or are you asserting that the weather records support their conclusion and that rain actually did fall at the rate claimed in their report?

    Next; do you see any reason’s why they would want to make a claim that rainfall levels were so extraordinarily high. What advantage might they gain by such a claim?

    As to the rest; yes, this is a comment board. Some of the posters are more informed than others. Some people make uninformed comments, some make very well informed comments. Other message boards delete comments they disagree with, whether informed or not. Some message boards delete inconvenient questions.

    Tony don’t play that; if you want to go on a diatribe about how everyone here is anti-science and so forth; he’ll allow it, as long at you don’t include ad-hominem attacks. So don’t deride the board. You seem emotionally very close to this issue. Might that be clouding your objectivity?

    Anyway; if you’d answer the questions about the 1 in 2000 year event to the best of your understanding, I would greatly appreciate it. (Maybe you even want to claim that there’s no such information in the report, I don’t know.)

  132. Oh, and I apologize for using interpolate instead of extrapolate.

    Should’ve proofed my post a little better.

    Sorry.

  133. Treeman is correct. David W almost managed to pass himself off as an independent expert, but for the fact that he carefully avoided critical reference to the passage of time. The panic release of over 650,000 megalitres took place on Tuesday night (Jan 11th) but as Treeman has pointed out above, the flood buffer was already being used up on the previous Friday afternoon. Over that weekend only about 116,000ML/day was being released despite the fact that the river downstream can take 300,000ML without major flooding.

    Treeman was right on the spot when I was first to break this story on Jo Nova’s site on Thursday 13th. See http://joannenova.com.au/2011/01/brisbane%e2%80%99s-man-made-flood-peak/

    Clearly, just an extra 100,000 ML/day over Sat/Sun/Mon would have reduced the Tuesday flow to 350,000 ML. In fact, there would still have been enough buffer left to leave the Tuesday release at 200,000 ML. And more than 10,000 homes would not have been flooded, 10,000 homes would not have been devalued by 30% (avg of $135,000 ea) or a total loss of $1.35 billion.

    The legal position is absolutely clear. The relevant Minister, Stephen Robertson, was in control of a large body of water which clearly falls within the meaning of “a dangerous thing” under the Qld Criminal Code Act 1901. His operating manual, that the engineers were required to comply with, did not provide any scope for pre-emptive action. And because of this the engineers were prevented from taking “all reasonable and practical steps to minimise harm” under their duty of care in respect of that dangerous thing.

    Releasing additional water as a flood buffer is used up is very clearly a reasonable and practical step to take to prevent an entirely foreseeable harm.

    The fact that Robertson has announced that he will not be standing for the next election, but, contrary to convention, has chosen to remain in his ministerial position, could lead some people to conclude that he is very eager to retain maximum influence over the course of events, including the information flow.

    And after more than 15 years of very close exposure to the policy processes in departments under his control, I can provide detailed documentary evidence of a penchant for callous, systematic and willful disregard for the truth.

    “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones” Mark
    Anthony.

  134. Bob Kutz says:
    March 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Re the 1 in 2000 year event, from the report.

    “The January 2011 Flood Event can be categorised as a large to rare event by theInstitution of Engineers Australia (Engineers Australia) national guidelines for the estimation of design flood characteristics (AR&R). The flood level classifications adopted by the BoM also define the Event as a major flood. Relevant statistics
    that demonstrate this are:
    • At some individual rainfall stations within the Brisbane River catchment, rainfall estimates beyond the credible limit of extrapolation (AEP of 1 in 2,000) were recorded for durations between 6 hours and 48hours. Rainfall recorded in the catchment area above Wivenhoe Dam indicates the catchment average
    rainfall intensity for the 72-hour period to Tuesday 11 January 2011 at 19:00 had an AEP between 1 in 100 and 1 in 200. The catchment average rainfall intensity for the 120-hour period to Tuesday 11 January 2011 at 19:00 also had an AEP between 1 in 100 and 1 in 200.”

    You can read the whole report (200+ pages) here :

    http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/commission/documents/report.pdf

    Cheers.

  135. IF the gov’t. is claiming that the inflow to the dam couldn’t have been foreseen going into the weekend because it was a 1 in 2000 year event, it doesn’t follow that the odds against it were 1 in 2000 at that point in time. And certainly not by noon Saturday, much less noon Sunday, etc.

  136. Is releasing additional water into an area that is specifically forecast to receive heavy rainfall with the potential for flash flooding a more reasonable thing to do rather than using the dams flood mitigation capacity at that stage.

    Again check your forecasts. Access-R, UK Met, PME, GFS and WATL were all indicating heaviest falls SOUTH of the dam over the weekend. People have consistently used only the vague forecast of heavy rainfall in SE QLD to justify their position for higher weekend releases then conveniently left out the part that the heaviest falls were forecast to fall South of the catchment where you would have had them send those additional releases to. If your going to use forecasts to support your position at least take some time to fully understand them.

    The QPF forecasts (an ensemble forecast using some of the models mentioned above) provided by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to the dam operators at no stage forecast 400mm or more to fall in less than 12 hours over dam on Tuesday. They consistently underforecast the heaviest rainfal in the catchment until ironically AFTER the big release was made on Tuesday. The forecast for Tuesday in the catchment was for no more than 100mm. Had that forecast been accurate we would not be having this discussion today.

    With regard the troll comments about who I work for this is the sort of thing infuriating me. I have outlined clearly that I work for an insurer and yet you continue to make unsubstatiated troll claims about me working for the government. Which supports my assertion or thinking that this was only ever a political attack rather than a valid well researched criticism of the dam operators. I am a liberal voter who despises the Bligh government, I live in Toowong which was affected by these floods and did have floodwater into my property as a result. I have every reason to look for ways in which the dam opertors were responsible but they simply are not. I’m more than happy to provide personal details to Anthony but I certainly would not give them to anyone on this Blog not given some of the utter rubbish that has been posted above.

    Nor do I or have I claimed to be an expert. What I have said though is that I’m someone who did actually take the time necessary to familiarise myself with all the data which is publicly available to avoid posting highly uninformed comments like some here have done.

    To answer your question Bob Kutz, which is actually a good one, you have to read the section in the report where they make the assertion with regards the extreme rainfall rate. Although I’m sure it has been answered or covered by an ealier post.

    The crux of this is there were conflicting readings from the automatic gauge and manual gauge located at the dam during the event on the Tuesday when the dam height was rising rapidly. A previous poster has offered a clear explanation as to why the engineers would accept the manual gauge reading over the automatic gauge. They had very good reasons to do so and have explained those reasons clearly in their report but this of course has not been mentioned at all in Andrew Bolt’s highly unbalanced peice. If the manual gauge was correct, computer modelling suggests the dam area itself would have required rainfall of up to 800mm in a 12 hour period to record the dam level rise seen on the manual gauge but as there is no rainfall gauge on the dam they don’t have that recorded measurement. Other guages in the area recorded over 400mm (at Mt Glorious) but they were 15km away from the dam. Gauges nearby recorded up to 170mm in 2 hours (Savages Crossing) so extreme rainfall rates were present and measured. Radar loops of the period in question show continual very heavy bands of rain over the dam for a period of up to 12 hours.

    There are certainly question marks over what the actual rainfall over the dam was and ARI’s may need to be revaluated in light of this event but to use a term like “dam operator caught in fabrication” is far from justified. To suggest they shouldn’t have modelled the data to come to a better understanding of why the dam level rose so quickly is unreasonable but to suggest they did it to coverup some form of wrongdoing borders on slanderous.

    Ian Mott, your post reinforces to me how clearly this has been a policitical witchhunt from the beginning.

    Further your assertion:
    “Clearly, just an extra 100,000 ML/day over Sat/Sun/Mon would have reduced the Tuesday flow to 350,000 ML. In fact, there would still have been enough buffer left to leave the Tuesday release at 200,000 ML. And more than 10,000 homes would not have been flooded, 10,000 homes would not have been devalued by 30% (avg of $135,000 ea) or a total loss of $1.35 billion.”
    highlights your limited knowlege of the situation that was occurring on the Tuesday.

    The inflow rate into the dam peaked at 11,500m3 sec which translates to just under 1 million mL a day. To suggest that at the time this was occurring, 100,000mL would have made any difference to the release strategy shows you don’t really understand what those strategies are. With 100,000mL less in the dam when the larger inflows started to impact from about 4am on Tuesday morning they would have been facing a dam headed for maybe 75-75.5m instead of 76-76.5m. Either situation with the dam headed above 74 m with rapid inflows incoming requires the same response since they do not have a crystal ball at that stage to tell them when those inflows will stop. That response is clearly outlined in the manual and it is to start opening the gates further until you match the inflow into the dam and the dam level stabilizes.

    Furthermore that 100,000mL that you would have released on the weekend before the Tuesday would have been released into an area with heavy ground saturation, a forecast of heavy rainfall and potentially severe flash flooding. Bourne out on Monday when a single storm cell dropped extreme rainfall in the Lockyer catchment BELOW Wivenhoe and caused the flash flooding that lead to most of the lives lost in this event.

    Had they released your 100,000mL and the heavy rainfall and flash flooding had occurred South of the catchment as forecast into the area your release was running into, no doubt you and Andrew Bolt would now be blaming the dam operators for how many people they killed by releasing to much water on the weekend and probably calling for criminal negligence trials.

  137. David W
    You say:

    “With 100,000mL less in the dam when the larger inflows started to impact from about 4am on Tuesday morning they would have been facing a dam headed for maybe 75-75.5m instead of 76-76.5m. Either situation with the dam headed above 74 m with rapid inflows incoming requires the same response since they do not have a crystal ball at that stage to tell them when those inflows will stop.”

    Firstly releasing at 240,000 mL/day from Saturday would have seen 332,000 mL less water in the dam come Tuesday midnight. Releasing 240,000 mL per day from Friday would have seen the difference more like 500,000 mL less water in the dam.
    That’s quite a lot of water with a flood buffer of 1.45 million megalitres.
    Secondly the larger flows began to impact Wivenhoe levels well before midnight on Sunday. The water in the dam was rising at close to 4M per day. The rate of rise was steady until 3PM Monday by which time the level was at 73M. The rate of increase picked up again at 3am Tuesday and peaked at 74.5M around 3PM Tuesday.

    No crystal ball was ever required. Just taking a look outside was enough. Knowing when the inflows might stop is beside the point when an alarming and consistent rate of rise had been observed since Friday. The larger flows impact to which you refer equate to a rise of just 1M at the dam wall when it was almost overflowing! The real impacts happened days earlier and were immediately visible. There was however no attempt to substantially increase releases until Monday.

    According to station data I’ve kept, the level in the dam went from 74.5M back to 74M between 3Pm and midnight Tuesday from when it climbed again to almost 75M. by 10am Wednesday. Station data at Jindalee shows a 6PM Wednesday peak. It shows an accelerated rise from midnight Tuesday, through 4am Wednesday from which time it tapered off.

    I suggest that substantial releases over the weekend would indeed have made a big difference to the outcome and trust that the Enquiry will look at all data and not models and projections of what might or might not have been.

  138. David W. Good try mate. All those inconvenient facts getting in the way of a good story! Perhaps if some commenters had perused the 1180 page version of the report they would have a better understanding of the event and the timeline of knowledge rather than relying on poorly explained newspaper reports of misunderstood third person comments. It is worth noting that the journalist Hedley Thomas has had a long running battle with the Brisbane City Council about predicted flood levels and building and is probably frustrated by what looks like “I told you so”!

    One point to note is that the size and shape of Wivenhoe (109km2 / 20km+ long) means that rainfall in the immediate vicinity of any part of the shore line combined with the ground saturation will have a very quick effect on lake levels. The area to the east is also very steep so its not hard to see how a 248mm rainfall event http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=136&p_display_type=dailyDataFile&p_startYear=2011&p_c=-339600139&p_stn_num=040763 is multiplied to give rapid lake level increases. Check out Esk located to the west – 130mm/150mm/39mm for 10th/11th/12th or Mt Glorious the the east – 188mm/252mm/208mm for 10th/11th/12th. Or Somerset Dam at the northern end of the lake; 192/156/66mm for 10/11/12. All publically available data, nothing made up. All stations located in an area where the monthly mean is about 130mm. Go and look at the SEQW report and check out their recurrence analysis and come back and demonstrate exactly where the fabrication has occured.

  139. So you would have ignored all rainfall forecasts which were all showing the heaviest falls would occur below the dam and release water on the weekend on the basis of what? What exactly was telling you on Saturday that their would be an inflow of close to 1 million mL on Monday and a further million on Tuesday with about 30-36 hours in between? If you knew this why didn’t you tell the dam operators?

    Frankly I’m amazed. You have a weather forecasting system that correctly predicts extremely rare weather events down to their exact location and rainfall amounts and no one else seems to have heard of it. It must of course be a computer model or forecast I simply havent seen yet and I would love for you to share it. Is it the TALO model perhaps? (take a look outside). Is it your argument that the dam operators should base all their strategy releases for the dam on what is happening outside your window?

    Being realistic, I would suggest your strategy of additional releases over the weekend would have put a significant number of lives at risk (which are far more important than the property losses suffered heavy as they were) and would potentially have inundated hundreds of properties well before any actual or forecast rainfall would have indicated it was needed.

    They were already releasing at a rate of 100,000mL a day by Saturday afternoon at a time when inflows were at the same level and flows downstream independent of the releases were already increasing. From 9pm Saturday through to 10am Sunday the dam level had dropped from 68.65m to 68.53m and all their forecasts were that the heaviest rainfall from that point forward was going to be below the dam.

    I’ve explained already the level of ground saturation below the catchment and the high probability of significant rainfall with the potential for dangerous flash flooding as evidenced by what happened in the Lockyer Valley. This was not forecast to fall in the dams catchment but below it.

    You haven’t provided any proof the forecasts were saying anything other than what I’ve told you already. You havent disputed the ground saturation nor the potential impact of very heavy rainfall or the possibility of dangerous flash flooding below the dam. You’ve provided no plausible explanation for how you would have known about the 2 seperate very large inflow events to come other than you looked outside and it was raining.

    Please tell me by what possible logic you can fit extra releases into this set of conditions.

  140. David W, nice try with the indignation, but my post specifically referred to an additional 100,000 ML/day FOR 3 DAYS, but you chose to imply that I was only referring to one day. If this is an example of your comprehension skills then we must wonder what else you are misquoting.

    In fact, the tuesday inflow was not 1 million ML, as you claimed, but merely 650,000 ML, the same volume that was released. The dam level at the start and the end of the day was pretty much unchanged. The inflow rate may have peaked at 11,300 cumecs but it did not remain at that rate all day. This is a pretty rudimentary mistake which, in light of your comprehension problems, further undermines your credibility.

    The flow speed from the catchment to the dam (the Wivenhoe, which is down stream from the Sommerset) also allowed a minimum of 12 hours grace (and up to 36 hours) between the actual rainfall event and the inflow to the lower dam. So this blatant spin about forecast problems appears to come directly from “butt covering central”.

    The simple, inescapable fact is that the operating manual simply did not comprehend the bleeding obvious. A fully utilised flood buffer is no longer a buffer at all.

  141. David W
    You clearly haven’t looked at what I wrote at 10.48 pm. You don’t need forecasts when the the water has been rising at an alarming rate, continues to do so and the dam level is already well into the buffer. This began on Friday.

    You say “From 9pm Saturday through to 10am Sunday the dam level had dropped from 68.65m to 68.53m and all their forecasts were that the heaviest rainfall from that point forward was going to be below the dam” Surely a drop of .12M while releasing 100,000mL is evidence alone of an insufficient release? Even if the rain stopped immediately, inflows continue for hours if not days in these circumstances.

    My lively-hood is integral to rainfall. I travel between NSW and Brisbane regularly to monitor landscape plantings. During the weeks before, up to and beyond the Brisbane floods I logged into BOM, Weatherzone and other sites each day and several times a day during the worst of it. I don’t recall seeing anything that suggested rainfall would be heavier above or below Wivenhoe. Weatherzone gave a greater than 75% probability of high rainfall for all but a few days of late December and all of January for most of the South East corner. The cells that caused the Toowoomba and Lockyer flash flooding and the cells that caused the rise in Wivenhoe both came from the same direction and had the same potential for rain on everything in their path.

    The only accurate forecast is the weather radar showing real time rainfall and direction. Even this is fallible, notably with sudden storm events but with slow moving systems it works a treat. Anything else is opinion based on modelling and we all know what that’s worth!

    Blaming forecasting or lack of it for a what is most likely clear cut case of mismanagement is bound to come back to bite SEQ Water. Bureaucrats and politicians have been squabbling about the buffer for years. More recently they have been squabbling about the value of water and the need to keep more of it.

    Yes the ground was saturated and yes a bigger release of water earlier would have caused some flooding. It would also have inconveniently cut several bridge crossings below Wivenhoe but in the absence of higher than usual tides and flood peaks from Bremer and Lockyer I suggest that 30% of the buffer could have been released before Monday afternoon. People using these bridges were already on alert.

    An earlier inconvenience vs a later catastrophe sounds logical to me! Duckshoving and blaming forecasters is logical only for self preservation!

  142. Ian Mott, sorry I missed the per day on the end of your 100,000mL in your previous post but then I guess I wasn’t imagining someone might rationally suggest they would have released that amount of water.

    You do realise that releasing a further 100,000mL a day would have resulted in flows over 3,000m3/sec per day at Mogill from Saturday onwards and 3,500m3/sec from Sunday before you had any possible indication of the 2 major inflow events in the dams, without factoring in any potential heavy rainfall forecast to fall into that area. That gives you only a tiny margin before you start inundating hundreds of homes with the threat of very heavy rain to fall in that area. They were already releasing 1200m3/sec on Saturday and infact by 9am Monday the releases were already at 2000m3/sec. You would have added a further 1200m3/sec to that amount in addition to what was already flowing from catchments below the dam which was in excess of 500m/sec. Would you have given authorities time to give warnings to local communities before these releases, time for evacutations or to prepare for being isolated , time to close bridges and roads? Would you have opened the gates rapidly or at a reasonable speed which was less likely to cause rapid river level rises?

    Absolutely no way you could have released anyhwere near that amount without substantial unwarranted risk taking. Easy to make a call after the event when you know where the rain fell. I wonder if you would have been so brave without being pre-armed with such knowlege.

    You can try and spin it anyway you like but that is foolish.

    No problems with you splitting hairs over the inflows. The 2 major inflows were on Monday (actually starting in the late hours of Sunday) and the second one started in the early hours of Tuesday moring. If “on Tuesday” is not preceise enough for you well so what. The fact that the 11,500m3/sec did not remain at the level all day is immaterial to the decision they had to make when the peak inflow was approaching that level which is the point I was trying to make which you have ignored.

    So Treeman you logged on to Weatherzone several times a day. And you think this was enough to get a gauge of what was happening. Many of us from Weatherzone were pretty much on the thread following events minute by minute. I got about 5 hours sleep from Saturday through to Tuesday whilst following events on Weatherzone. I have since been through the event thread 3 or 4 times to get a feel for exactly how things transpired. It is very clear that everyone other than you and Ian were expecting the weather system to move south of the dam.

    Provide some evidence that you knew exactly where the rain was going to fall by Saturday morning and maybe I’ll have a little more respect for your views. You, Ian and others who have posted have repeatedly the reality of the forecasts. But worse still you use the forecast to say they should have known the rain was coming but you ignore the part of the forecast regarding where the rain was going to fall. Thats hypocritical.

    If you say they should have looked at the rainfall that actually fell only and ignored the forecasts then there is no basis for early releases either. Any rainfall until Tuesday was always going to be comfortably handled by the dam. You therefore have no justification for early releases until Tuesday unless you factor in rain forecast to fall and you want to ignore what those forecasts were saying except the part which fits in with your preconceived and clearly politically motivated ideas. Again hypocritical.

  143. Oh btw Treeman, here are some comments on WZ that it appears you must have missed. All made on either 8th or 9th January.

    “Latest GFS is out and continues the current theme with moving the event further S…now shows biggest falls just S of Brisbane…”

    “Latest UKMET run keeps the heavy rain anchored from the border up to Brisbane till Monday night.”

    “GFS has the focus on NE NSW, however ACCESS-R has the focus on Brisbane and surrounds…”

    “WATL going for consecutive days of 150mm+ falls on Sunday and Monday centered a little south of Brisbane…”

    The QPF forecasts for the catchment provided by BOM to the dam operators are on page 72 (adobe page number) of the following report. Linked by someone else.

    http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/commission/documents/report.pdf

    So again please tell me what exactly it was that would have been telling you on the Saturday that close to 2 million mL was going to flow into the dam from that point forward?

  144. Nice try, David W, but but you again failed to provide essential information that puts your numbers in perspective. The total peak flood flow from the Tues/Wed panic release was over 10,000 cumecs, of which 8,000 was from the Wivenhoe branch and just 2,000 from the Bremmer. So your claim that an additional 100,000 ML/day (1157 cumecs) of pre-release would have caused unacceptable flooding is plain spurious.

    Indeed, the 3,000 to 3,500 cumec flow figure you claim would have been unacceptable as a pre-release was the very same figure that flows were reduced to THE DAY AFTER THE PANIC DISCHARGE. This 3,500 cumecs flow figure is the upper limit of a minor flood. And the fact that it is only 1/3rd of the panic release major flood level merely highlights your incapacity to make proportionate responses to the data.

    And spare us the cognitive cull-de-sac of where the heavy rain was forecast for. At any one point in the decision chain the major variable was not from the forecast but rather, the falls that had already taken place in the catchment but had not yet flowed to the lower dam. From the moment the flood buffer began to be used up on Friday, it was entirely foreseeable that the remaining buffer may not be enough. By Saturday there had already been enough rain in the upper catchment to prompt a fierce debate within SEQWater over the need for additional pre-releases.

    The naysayers didn’t actually win the argument, they just fell back on the negligent prescriptions in Minister Robertson’s operating manual that only allowed a staged increase in releases AFTER THE FACT. And it is testimony to your ignorance that one must state that action after the fact is the very antithesis of a duty of care, to take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent entirely foreseeable harm.

    So if you would care to front up to a court with your hair splitting over where the forecast predicted the most intense rain then be my guest. But the normal range of variation between the predicted and actual location of a storm event is greater than was the case in this instance and there is no excuse for operating on any finer scale.

    You claim to be a non-Labor voter and a person impacted by the flood and to not be involved in the decision making process in any way. But all you have offered here are excuses for what was done. And as you have done so under a pseudonym we have no way of testing the veracity of your claimed personna.

    And as for your claim of political bias on my part, you should read through some of the court cases initiated by Robertson’s department to get a handle on their relationship with the truth, http://www.propertyrightsaustralia.org/ Officers guilty of perjury, fabrication of evidence, the Director General guilty of contempt of court, the list goes on. Read this stuff and then tell me these people are not capable of fabricating a defence in gross negligence.

  145. David W
    I’ve never tried to forecast that “close to 2 million mL was going to flow into the dam from that point forward” My point was that the two systems that delivered heavy rain to Toowoomba /Lockyer and Brisbane via Wivenhoe/Somerset came from the same direction and broadly speaking had the same potential to deliver rain.

    It seems that you’re caught up in defending forecasts or defending SEQ Water’s reliance on them. What you have quoted below are opinions of model based forecasts and should be taken as that by all concerned. It is folly to rely on forecast models and scurrilous to use them as justification for mismanagement.

    “Latest GFS is out and continues the current theme with moving the event further S…now shows biggest falls just S of Brisbane…”

    “Latest UKMET run keeps the heavy rain anchored from the border up to Brisbane till Monday night.”

    “GFS has the focus on NE NSW, however ACCESS-R has the focus on Brisbane and surrounds…”

    “WATL going for consecutive days of 150mm+ falls on Sunday and Monday centered a little south of Brisbane…”

    Use of words like “going for” gives the game away. In any case, forecast falls on Sunday and Monday are irrelevant as the accelerated rise at Wivenhoe wall had already begun on Friday. Just as it takes over a day for water from Wivenhoe to reach Bellbourie, it takes time for rain to register at the dam wall.

    Ian has pointed out and you seem to have missed, “The flow speed from the catchment to the dam (the Wivenhoe, which is down stream from the Sommerset) also allowed a minimum of 12 hours grace (and up to 36 hours) between the actual rainfall event and the inflow to the lower dam.”

    You say “Any rainfall until Tuesday was always going to be comfortably handled by the dam”

    I’m not so sure about that. The dam was already over 72m by lunchtime Monday. The rate of rise slowed from 8pm Monday (73m approx) until 3am Tuesday. It then accelerated from 73.5 m to reach 74.5m by 3pm Tuesday. This slowing is likely the result of the increased releases Monday afternoon. The accelerated rises at Savages crossing and Moggill mirror the increased releases if you allow the time lag.

    There is strong justification for early bigger releases well before Tuesday without considering forecasts at all. You seem to support disregarding the observed rate of rise from Friday through Monday on the basis of forecast models. This is a most irresponsible position to take.

    This MEDIA RELEASE – 10 JANUARY 2011 is telling:
    “Significant rainfall in the catchments has lifted Wivenhoe Dam’s level to 154 per cent and Somerset Dam to 158 per cent, despite continuing releases.
    Although releases are being made, large quantities of water continue to flow into the dams. Water is being held back in order to manage impacts downstream and allow for other inflows from urban runoff, the Lockyer and Bremer Rivers to subside”

    The decision to release only a small amount of water over the weekend forced SEQ Water into a no win position come Monday afternoon. They had to release more water to prevent a plug breach at the most inconvenient time, right when the impact of Bremer and to some extent Lockyer floods peaked below Wivenhoe.

    This is not about forecasting, it’s about management of a flood mitigation dam using measurable observational data rather than model based forecasting.

  146. But you have repeatedly said you wanted to release 100,000mL a day on Saturday and Sunday. Please provide proof that the inflows into the dam at that point were going to generate the requirement for the peak release on Tuesday.

    You have ignored the fact your releases would put the flow at 3,500m3/sec before taking into account any rain that might fall into that area. You have ignored the fact that Lockyer Valley provides you with a clear example of the type of rainfall that was being forecast below the catchment.

    You would have released the water and everyone would have had to pray to god that the weather forecasts were not correct.

    Rainfall and river flow data from Saturday and Sunday would be handy to prove your case that inflows and rainfall on those days were sufficient to begin larger releases from Saturday. Given the dam level was either stable or falling slightly for a large part of Saturday and Sunday on the back of releases in the 1200m3/sec range to 1400m3/sec range I cant see how you could assert on ether Saturday or Sunday that flows into the dam at that point were going to require the Tuesday release.

    When increased inflows into the dam did start occurring on Sunday afternoon going into Monday they responded by increasing the release rate to 2700m3/sec by 8pm Monday after taking the appropriate precautions to ensure people downstream were suitably notified and the necessary roads and bridges closed. They then commenced opening the gates at about 2am Monday morning at a rate that didnt cause unnecessarily rapid and life threatening river and creek level rises downstream.

    These increased inflows started to become apparent at about 2-3pm on Sunday. It would have been at least another 4-6 hours before the scale of those inflows reached a magnitude which would indicate the need to increase the release rate to levels you’ve suggested (levels they reached by 8pm Monday anyway when conditions actually warranted it) as they certainly wouldnt start emptying the dam based on a single hours inflow. This takes you to around 6-8pm at night. As I’ve said above, they then have to make the appropriate notifications to councils who have to notify affected residents before releasing because given conditions downstream, weather forecast and obseervations of weather conditions, their was a very high risk of flash flooding and loss of life. The release rate then started increasing from about 2am on the Monday morning to hit the 2700m3/sec rate by 8pm. This release rate combined with downstream flows already put them at 3500m3/sec without taking into account any further falls over the area that the water was being released into.

    In fact with this rate of release even the largest inflow of Monday was not going to put the dam level over 74 meters which is the trigger point for the bigger releases that occurred on Tuesday.

    You have made claims but not provided a single peice of proof that conditions on either Saturday or Sunday indicated the need for a higher release rate.

    You use words like “panic discharge” to falsely convey things were out of control when in fact the releases on Tuesday were well controlled and in line with operational procedure so much so that the peak discharge was less than 65% of the peak inflow. But you would have done a “panic discharge” on Saturday and Sunday without any proof it was needed.

    You want the dam to 100% mitigate a 1 in 100 to 1 in 200 year flood event at the cost of not using the flood mitigation capacity at all for lower level events. This is far from a practical approach. Your approach would potentially have flooded hundreds of properties in October and December 2010 without any reason to do so. I cant imagine what you would have done in if you were in charge in 1999 where inflows approached 1974 levels but the Brisbane River never exceeded 1.7m due to the same strategy of limited releases used early in the event.

    “By Saturday there had already been enough rain in the upper catchment to prompt a fierce debate within SEQWater over the need for additional pre-releases.”

    Provide proof of this. And a newspaper reporter saying so is not proof.

  147. You are all over the place, David W. Once you start claiming that the 100,000 ML release they could have made on Sat/Sun/Mon would have been a panic release you shred your credibility. And your demand, “Please provide proof that the inflows into the dam at that point were going to generate the requirement for the peak release on Tuesday”, is further evidence that you have no comprehension of duty of care.

    The essence of DoC is whether there was any “reasonably foreseeable risk” of the need for the peak release on Tuesday, not for proof of certainty.

    So lets just summarise your claims. You overstated the peak flow by 50% as being 1 million ML/day when it was 1 million ML over 36 hours or 650,000 ML/day. You understated my suggestion of a prudent 100,000 ML/day over three days by 66%, using just a single relase of 100,000 ML instead. You misstated the discharge rates from each part of the catchment to suggest the flows downstream were much higher than the 20% Bremmer vs 80% Wivenhoe portions. You claimed the 100,000 ML pre-release on Sat/Sun/Mon would take total flows to well over 350,000 ML/day to produce serious flooding when that volume was released on Thursday and produced a significant decline in flood levels 36 hours later.

    And then you demand evidentiary proof that decision makers did not know that a future event was certain. Pathetic.

    My guess is that you are a close family member of one of the people involved in this fiasco and desperately want to believe they have not been grossly negligent to the tune of more than $1.5 billion. Good luck with that. Feel free to expand on your interpretation of duty of care to a good lawyer.

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