Inquiry Probes the Strategies Used in Dam Management; Queries over Engineers' Decisions

The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia), April 13, 2011 | Go to article overview

Inquiry Probes the Strategies Used in Dam Management; Queries over Engineers' Decisions


A CRUCIAL part of the manual for Brisbane's Wivenhoe Dam was penned by one of its engineers without the scrutiny of lawyers, despite having potential legal consequences.

Senior flood operations engineer Robert Ayre fronted the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry for the second time yesterday and continued to be questioned over his interpretation of the manual during January's floods.

One of four engineers controlling the dam in the days before Brisbane flooded, Mr Ayre on Monday told the inquiry they had used models based on no further rain, rather than those factoring in forecast rain, when deciding the strategy to adopt.

The manual provides a flow chart of strategies and Mr Ayre was questioned at length on how and when the engineers decided to move to strategy W4, where the structural safety of the dam takes priority over flooding homes.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Peter Callaghan yesterday asked Mr Ayre who authored part of the manual that required engineers to use abest forecast rainfalla when considering their strategy a[pounds sterling] a phrase that had only appeared in the most recent revision of the document. …

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