UPDATE 5.45PM: Evacuated residents are slowly being notified they can return to their homes after almost 48 hours.

Queensland Police lifted the Public Safety Preservation Act at 5pm, according to Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie.

"Residents are being individually contacted at the moment and will continue to be notified over the coming hours," Cr Dobie said.

"Emergency services and police needed to be comfortable before the removed the PSPA, and our number one priority through this was protection of life."

Not all residents will be able to return home, with one property identified to be in the immediate impact area if the dam wall was to break.

"The flood modelling is showing one house in the immediate impact area and it is most likely the residents won't be allowed to move back to the property tonight," she said.

"Assessments completed today show if the wall was to break, the flooding would be half of the 100-year flood model - which is a worst-case scenario.

"The water that would come from the Bolzan dam is about 50 per cent of that."

While residents are allowed to return home, water continues to flow out of the dam at a steady rate, with no significant change throughout the day.

 To help release pressure on the failing dam wall, engineers will commence work in the morning on a channel on the southern side of the dam.

"The engineers will construct a bypass channel to help take the water out of the dam," Cr Dobie said.

"It will take about a day to dig the hole."

Road closures will remain in place, Cr Dobie said as "double the amount of water will be released."

"Our advice to the public is to not go past the road closure signs," she said.

"The roads are already flooding or have the potential to flood if the wall was to let go."

 

UPDATE 10AM: A decision is expected to be made early this afternoon as to when evacuated Talgai residents can return to their properties, according to Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Tracy Dobie.

Residents were evacuated on Friday night after a dam wall failed at Bolzan Quarry, threatening to flood surrounding, downstream properties.

"Police will make an assessment on the threat to properties as the water is now flowing out of the lower cofferdam," Cr Dobie said.

"They are currently doing an inspection on how much flooding has happened in the area and emergency services are still on site to assist with the situation."

Approximately 25 per cent of water has now flowed out of the dam, with the stability of the wall still not determined.

"The break through the dam wall has widened a bit," Cr Dobie said.

"However, that will continue to happen as the water falls through.

"We don't have an accurate rate in which the water is flowing out, it has eased off and will continue to do so."

UPDATE 5PM FEB 15: SOUTHERN Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie has advised evacuated Talgai residents not to return home tonight after engineers determined an ongoing risk of dam wall collapse. 

"If they don't have accommodation, accommodation will be made available," Cr Dobie said. 

"We will reassess the situation at 8am tomorrow morning."

Police issued a statement just 6pm saying an emergency declaration under the Public Safety Preservation Act (PSPA) remains in place as a dam at Talgai continues to leak.

"Assessments of the dam's integrity has been conducted throughout the day with no serious breach of the dam wall detected.

"Residences within the declaration area will remain evacuated until the threat eases. Roads also remain closed.

"Police are working with relevant authorities to ensure all precautions to ensure community safety are undertaken.

"Members of the public are urged to remain clear of the declaration area."

UPDATE 4PM: WATER flowing out of the burst Bolzan Quarry dam has filled the adjacent cofferdam and is beginning to spill into the neighbouring creek, according to Southern Downs councillor Cameron Gow.

"The engineers estimate the cofferdam holds between 40 and 50ML and its gradually filled up during the day," Cr Gow said.

Southern Downs Regional Council is currently in discussions with dam engineers to decide if and when evacuated residents should be allowed back into their homes.

"It depends on whether the dam wall is in danger of any further breaches, either minor or moderate, that would increase the outflow" Cr Gow said.

The councillor said the wall is unlikely to be completely destroyed, but if it disintegrates beyond its current state it could endanger surrounding residents.

The burst wall at the privately owned dam in Talgai, pictured at around 3pm this afternoon. Photo contributed by the Southern Downs Regional Council.
The burst wall at the privately owned dam in Talgai, pictured at around 3pm this afternoon. Photo contributed by the Southern Downs Regional Council. Bianca Hrovat

"From the moment we stood up to operate the disaster coordination centre we've taken an extremely cautious approach," he said.

"Public safety comes first."

The owner of the Bolzan Quarry and the engineers have informed council they are working on a mitigation solution.

According to Cr Gow, this appears to be allowing the dam to self-empty.

"Walking excavators in there and digging into the top of the storage won't have any additional or desired impact," he said.

"At the current rate its spilling its enough to mitigate risk.

"It's safer not to try and interfere."

There is no estimated time when evacuated residents may be informed of whether or not they can return this evening and Cr Gow advises those affected to seek alternative accommodation.

"We've left the option open of reopening the evacuation centre this evening," he said.

"And we're now discussing how to maintain a presence at the dam site overnight."

The paddocks surrounding the Bolzan Quarry, pictured in the distance.
The paddocks surrounding the Bolzan Quarry, pictured in the distance. Bianca Hrovat

 

UPDATE 10:30AM: ENGINEERS completed their initial assessment of the Bolzan dam at Darymple Creek Rd in Talgai, concluding the threat level was now low.

Water is reported to be flowing at a controlled rate and the dam has dropped by approximately half a metre this morning.

The breach in the wall is located 2 metres above the discharge hole and the dam is between 2 and 3 metres deep. 

Engineers predict the water will continue to flow into the paddock below and then into surrounding creeks, posing little danger to surrounding properties. 

Despite their assessment, an emergency alert remains in place.

 

Police made an emergency declaration in relation to a dam leak in Talgai at 10.40pm last night, after the dam began leaking water. The QPS and emergency services are working with dam engineers to ensure all precautions have been taken. More info: https://t.co/f78xTxKaZt pic.twitter.com/VM0KSzLODf

- Queensland Police (@QldPolice) February 15, 2020

 

The Queensland Police Service are working with dam engineers to ensure all precautions have been taken, according to a spokesman.

The affected area is between Hendon Victoria Hill Road, Warwick Allora Road, Pratten Road and Yankee Gully Road.

Self-evacuated residents streamed into Freedom Fuel at Allora, where employee Jessica Cole served a number of them.

Ms Cole said she was distressed to hear her customers affected by the heavy downpours but said one family she had spoken with had adequete time to prepare and move their livestock to safety. 

A spokeswoman for the Southern Downs Regional Council said evacuated residents should not return until the area has been confirmed to be safe.

Police block roads to Talgai due to dam wall concerns.
Police block roads to Talgai due to dam wall concerns. Bianca Hrovat

 

UPDATE 7.45AM: THE threat of collapse remains high at a large irrigation dam in Talgai after fast-flowing water battered the damaged wall overnight.

The privately-owned 430ML Bolzan quarry dam was full when the wall first began to disintegrate, forming a hole 3.5m high by 1.5m wide, according to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.

That hole grew to 5m high overnight, sending large volumes of water gushing downstream and preventing engineers from conducting any further work.

The emergency declaration under the public safety preservation act continues this morning, according to Warwick Sergeant Shane Reid.

Roads remain closed Talgai as engineers and emergency services monitor the situation at a private dam.
Roads remain closed Talgai as engineers and emergency services monitor the situation at a private dam. Bianca Hrovat

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the engineer and dam inspector remained on site and "will work out a solution".

"It is really now up to them, emergency services and the landowner as to what measures will be taken," Cr Dobie said.

"They are looking to see if they ease the pressure on the dam."

Police evacuated residents of 12 properties after a warning text message was sent to 5000 of the surrounding residents.

An evacuation centre was established at the Warwick Christian College but it was later closed as residents elected to stay with family and friends.

Emergency service crews remain on scene to monitor the situation and facilitate further evacuation should the "worst case scenario" occur, according to Sgt Reid.

EARLIER: SOUTHERN Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said water is gushing from a 3.5m hole in a large Talgai irrigation dam expected to fail through the night.

Cr Dobie said the property owner at the Bolzan quarry contacted emergency services at 5pm yesterday after noticing the 430ML dam was starting to fail. 

Subsequent attempts to repair the dam were unsuccessful and evacuation orders were issued to surrounding properties, with 5000 text messages issued to those in affected and surrounding areas. 

Cr Dobie said emergency services developed a "polygon" to identify the path the water would take if the dam wall were to burst and how many properties would be impacted. 

"We were asked to issue the emergency alert at about 10pm to notify about 250 properties that are downstream of Dalrymple Creek," Cr Dobie said. 
"The issue here is Dalrymple Creek is already in flood, the ground is wet and it's dark."

 Cr Dobie stressed that at this time the dam had not completely failed and an engineer from Toowoomba would assess the damage at first light. 

She said if the water continued to be released at such a volume and strain on the wall reduced, it could prevent it failing completely.  

"With the water going out at the capacity it was earlier, if it continues like that, a good percentage of water may be gone by light," she said. 

"If it breaks, it will come and spread 200m wide - 100m each side of Dalrymple Creek." 

Cr Dobie said there was no threat to anyone outside the areas between Talgai West Rd and Dalrymple Creek Rd, Talgai. 

"The land is really flat so the water will just go out over that land and by the time it has got a bit downstream, it will have dissipated," she said. 

"I have confidence in the people who live there. This is their land, they know what happens and they will do the right thing and know where to go." 

The cause of the failure is not yet confirmed but it's suggested its being filled so quickly after a long period of drought could have been a factor. 

Roads have been blocked either side of Dalrymple Creek. 

In an emergency, call triple-0.

 

 

 

KERRI MOORE
Editor

An Emergency Alert has been issued by the Southern Downs Regional Council to residents in part of Talgai.

The Bolzan Quarry Dam is expected to fail. Dam failure will result in dangerous downstream flooding in low lying areas between Talgai West Road and Dalrymple Creek Road, Talgai.

Residents need to act to protect life, leave now and move to higher ground.

Those evacuating have been urged to leave immediately and stay with family and friends in a safe area. An evacuation centre is also open at Warwick Christian College, 70 Horsman Road, Warwick. 

Earlier firefighting and SES crews were at the dam earlier tonight to try and patch up the leak.

However the dam burst again, resulting in more crews and senior officers attending the scene to deal with the flow of water.

Anyone in an emergency situation should call triple-0 immediately. 


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