The upgrade was scheduled to begin in 2021. However, during the procurement stage it became evident that the project costs would be significantly higher than the approved $127 million budget. An independent cost estimate confirmed that the project would potentially be in excess of $200 million.
The potential cost increase is due to a more thorough understanding of the project, based on the detailed design of the dam wall structures, the construction complexity, and additional risk mitigation activities required due to approval conditions.
Seqwater has made the prudent decision to reassess the project investment during the first half of this year. We will be assessing feasible options with specialist consultants.
The lowering of the lake will not proceed in 2021 as previously anticipated, given strict environmental approval conditions that specified the de-watering must occur between March and August to avoid the wet season and aquatic breeding.
Construction of a new bridge to the Noosa Water Treatment Plant is currently suspended due to the wet weather forecast. The construction of the new bridge is required for the upgrade but also for access to the Noosa Water Treatment Plant. Works will continue to progress independent of the dam upgrade decision and are expected to recommence in May 2021.
We do recognise that this project has had a long planning phase but it is important Seqwater takes a prudent approach to the project’s design and construction.
We also recognise that this decision may inconvenience those who have been, or were expected to be impacted by the project construction. We ask the Noosa community for their patience as we continue to work towards reaching the best outcome for this project.
While it may be a small dam, the upgrade is complex with a range of requirements to consider so we achieve positive safety, operational, cost, environmental, and community outcomes. Importantly, Lake Macdonald Dam continues to operate safely.
If there are any substantial changes to the scope of the project we will consult the Noosa community.
The upgrade of Noosa’s Lake Macdonald Dam remains a high priority project under Seqwater’s Dam Improvement Program.