Friday, February 3, 2012

Australia Re-opens Investigation of 2011 Floods

Roger Pielke Jr has some interesting analysis of a surprise twist in the investigation of the 2011 floods in Queensland. In a nutshell, dam operators had the standard operating procedure of making high releases when the reservoir filled to a certain level. Instead, the operators were suspected of holding water in the dam, hoping (based on their in-house river forecasts) that a flood wasn’t coming. The gamble didn’t pay off- there was flooding and the dam had to make higher releases than they would have had to otherwise, making the flooding worse.


Photos of Queensland’s Flood Inquiry

The controversy comes because new and conflicting information was given to the Royal Commission of Inquiry. The Commission took earlier reports from the engineers at face value and these largely said that the dam was managed by the book. That story has changed and under examination one of the Dam engineers was left in tears on the stand today. 

To me, it is a bit early to fully appreciate what is going on with a case as complex as this one. At the very least, the political election has been delayed until this issue has been resolved.

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