Wivenhoe Dam.
Wivenhoe Dam. Rob Williams

Dam scandal spills over

TWO senior flood engineers who stepped down from their roles yesterday should not be made scapegoats, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said.

John Tibaldi and Terry Malone were in charge of Wivenhoe Dam during last January's flooding and had both testified at the reconvened flood inquiry last week.

Seqwater said both engineers have taken special leave after "indicating separately to Seqwater that they are unable to continue in their roles as senior flood engineers at present".

The Queensland Flood Commission of inquiry is holding 11 days of extra hearings to examine allegations dam engineers mismanaged water releases, causing unnecessary flooding in Ipswich and Brisbane.

The inquiry is also looking at claims the engineers breached Wivenhoe's operating manual, misled the inquiry and colluded to produce a final report about the dam's operation before the floods.

Ipswich's Mayor said the inquiry should focus on the manual and the management of the dam, rather than the engineers.

"It's not about going after people, it's about finding out what happened and what we can learn for the future to make things better in future floods," Cr Pisasale said.

"I'm sure these engineers did the best job they did, I'm sure they didn't set out to flood Ipswich and Brisbane. They didn't do anything intentionally wrong. All we want to know as a city is, is the manual right.

"It's not about laying blame. These guys are being hung out to dry. I hope this doesn't make innocent people into scapegoats.

"I want to make sure the volume of water that was released doesn't happen again.

"Where are all the head people from Seqwater? Where are there superiors? Surely it wasn't just these engineers responsible for everything. Who else higher up was responsible?"

Natural Resources Minister and Member for Ipswich Rachel Nolan said Seqwater told her Mr Tibaldi and Mr Malone had made themselves unavailable for duty.

"You can imagine the flood engineers have been enormously occupied emotionally and quite simply in terms of their time with the flood commission of inquiry. It would be difficult for them to also be on call for any flood situation which happens," Ms Nolan said. "My priority has been to get suitably qualified people to do the work."

Meanwhile, Premier Anna Bligh yesterday revealed she had ordered a second opinion on whether proposed water releases from the dam would be appropriate just days before the floods inundated thousands of homes in Brisbane and Ipswich.

"I formed the view that further advice should be sought, by way of a second opinion, on whether or not the proposed releases were appropriate," Ms Bligh said.

"I think it's really important to understand I had complete confidence in our dam engineers."

LNP leader Campbell Newman said Ms Bligh told the media only two weeks ago that she knew nothing about the operations of the dam during the floods.

"Clearly that has now been blown out of the water," Mr Newman said. "We know now that she has been involved, in fact a year ago, in detailed discussions about the operation of the dam.

"All I can say is it is a murky issue, that is this whole commission it seems, that is now lapping at the door of the premier's office."


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