Construction impacts on the community may include reduced water quality in tanks, dust entering houses, impacts on family lifestyles and possible damage to homes. The group also discussed flow on impacts such as reduced tourism appeal and reduced water quality in the Stanley River downstream of the construction site.
Residents of Somerset Dam village with pre-existing health conditions and those who are at home during the day will be the most at risk during construction. The group were also concerned about the mental health impacts of construction continuing for up to 4 years. The village area does not have good access to health services, and construction activity may increase demand.
Dam safety impacts
The purpose of the Somerset Dam Upgrade is to improve the dams ability to withstand extreme floods and reduce the risk of a catastrophic failure. The group discussed the impacts such a failure might have on the Somerset Region. These included loss of life in areas downstream of the dam wall, including Somerset Dam village; loss of water supply to Kilcoy; loss of water supply for farms and irrigation; loss of recreation opportunities and associated tourism; loss of jobs and businesses; and environmental and ecological damage.
Proposed measures to reduce or mitigate impacts:
- Locate the concrete batching plant away from the village and residences.
- Investigate options for a haul route on the eastern side of the Stanley River to access the construction site.
- Limit construction hours, including no trucks or noisy/dusty works on weekends.
- Consider relocating high risk residents during construction period.
- Provide regular updates to the community, including the results of dust and noise monitoring. Advise of any upcoming activity with significant impacts.
- Hold regular meetings with residents to provide an opportunity for feedback and questions. Keep the community informed before and during the construction period.
- Provide advice to residents before the start of construction on how to minimise impacts, such as sealing windows.
- Follow construction industry best practice methods for addressing noise and dust impacts, including dust filters, waterway barriers, noise barriers and use of water trucks.
- Employ a Town Maintenance Team to regularly inspect roads in village and keep clear.
- Partner with allied health organisations to provide medical services in the village during construction.
- Provide social supports during construction including informal gatherings and counselling services.
- Incentivise the use of health services to encourage residents to have regular checks.
- Provide a weekly bus service to take village residents out for day trips, shopping, etc.
- Provide more dam tour opportunities to share information about the project with residents.
Do you have any other feedback or ideas? Share them with the CRG by emailing [email protected]
Seqwater has response plans and we are continuing to update them according to the most current available information. We have cancelled or postponed Seqwater public events, including our community education program, to protect our staff and the communities we serve.
The Community Reference Group will continue to meet via online tools over the coming months. This will allow us to complete the draft Social Impact Management Plan while complying with the recommendations of government and health experts.