The Googong Dam overflows after reaching 100% of capacity. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Keeping Googong Dam levels at 80 to 85 per cent capacity would have done little to avoid Queanbeyan’s 2010 floods and the $1.3 million worth of damage caused, according to ACTEW Water officials.
But representatives of the utility provider and Queanbeyan City Council have agreed to commission a joint independent study to look at possible connections between the dam’s management and future flooding.
Queanbeyan councillors have been calling for the dam level to be kept at 80 to 85 per cent capacity to create an "air reserve" as a flood mitigation buffer since the 2010 floods, but ACTEW Water maintains the water supply dam is integral to the region's water security.
Dr David Poland leaves his flood affected surgery in in Morisset Street, Queanbeyan, during the 2010 flood Photo: GRAHAM TIDY
The dam is at 100 per cent capacity.
But ACTEW Water managing director John Knox said Queanbeyan’s downstream location meant it was “somewhat protected” by the mere existence of Googong Dam, despite the dam not being designed for flood mitigation.
“We believe at this point in time that changing the way we manage the dam levels would not have caused any significant change in flooding impact during the 2010 event,” he said.
“However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other feasible options that may present themselves during the study.”
Queanbeyan mayor Tim Overall welcomed the study, agreed to at a meeting between ACTEW Water and the council this week, saying it would look at dam level management.
Cr Overall has previously said keeping the dam below full capacity would buy time for valuable equipment and assets to be moved to higher ground and give locals time to prepare in the event of a flood.
Both parties will pay for the independent study, but the costs will be unknown until they reach an agreement on its terms of reference.
Meetings are set to begin in coming weeks.
"It will be important as a first step to gather what data and modelling we already have available from both organisations so we can rule out unnecessary work," a spokeswoman for ACTEW Water said.
"We are hopeful that the study can be started quite soon and completed as quickly as possible, but obviously that will depend on how extensive the terms of reference are."