The Queensland Government has appointed the Inspector General Emergency Management to undertake an independent assessment into the preparedness and response of dam operators to the monsoonal rainfall and flooding events in north Queensland.

The news comes in the wake of record-breaking floods in the city of Townsville that caused severe damage, and led to the opening of the spillway at Ross River Dam. Townsville Local Disaster Management Chair Mayor Jenny Hill said the floods had eclipsed previous records for the city. “The Townsville floods were much bigger than a 1 in 100 year event,” Cr Hill said. “A team of experts is currently analysing the data but it is clear that the flood levels in the Ross River were greater than a 1 in 500 year event.

“There were rainfall totals over parts of the Ross River Dam catchment during the past week that were in excess of 1 in 2000 year rainfall events.”

Bulk water infrastructure developer and manager Sunwater welcomed the government appointment. Sunwater supports the Townsville City Council by operating it’s Ross River Dam in accordance with a contract, including operational procedures and the Emergency Action Plan.

Sunwater CEO Nicole Hollows said Sunwater is committed to operating the Ross River Dam as safely as possible and will fully participate in all aspects of the independent assessment.

“As the operator of Ross River Dam, our role and focus throughout this event has been to ensure the dam is managed safely and in line with the direction of our customer and dam owner Townsville City Council,” Ms Hollows said. “We are confident we have met all our obligations and we look forward to contributing to the inquiry and reviewing the findings and recommendations of the independent assessment.

“We must all work together to understand and plan for the flood risks in weather events, including local Councils, disaster management groups, Sunwater and residents, who each have a role during these events and in any proposed long-term decision,” she added.

In addition to Townsville and surrounding areas the flood has affected communities including Julia Creek, McKinlay, Kynuna, Croydon, Charters Towers, Richmond, Hughenden, Winton, Karumba, Normanton, Burketown, Doomadgee, Daintree, the Torres Strait, Wujal Wujal, Hervey’s Range, Halifax, Coen, Townsville, Eungella, the Burdekin and Whitsundays.