He didn't see the dam difference

Water Utilities Minister Stephen Robertson speaks to the media outside the flood inquiry.
Water Utilities Minister Stephen Robertson speaks to the media outside the flood inquiry. Daniel Hurst

STEPHEN Robertson admitted he didn't notice the difference between what he was told about engineers' water release strategy for Wivenhoe Dam and what appeared in their final report.

The water minister gave evidence yesterday at the flood inquiry and said dam engineers jumped to a higher water release strategy the Saturday before thousands of Ipswich and Brisbane homes were inundated.

But the inquiry has heard engineers moved to the higher release strategy later than claimed and created a fictitious final report on how the dam was managed.

Mr Robertson asked for a ministerial briefing on the dam's operation for January 17. It said the higher release strategy, W3, was in place almost 48 hours after the date claimed in the Seqwater report.

Mr Robertson said he read the documents two months apart and didn't pick up the discrepancy.

"Ministers don't sit down at their desk comparing documents against each other," he said.

Mr Robertson was also told by then Water Grid Manager director of operations Dan Spiller, on the Monday before the floods, that the dam was operating under a transitional W2 strategy.

That was more than 48 hours after the Seqwater report said the W3 strategy was implemented.

Mr Robertson told the inquiry it was not unusual for ministerial briefings to contain mistakes.

He said the dam engineers were given only a few days to prepare the briefing and had been through a very stressful time.

"I wouldn't have been surprised in the preparation of the final report from Seqwater ... if some of the information changed, based on a more considered and more detailed review of what occurred," he said.

"If I had detected a 'She'll be right' attitude, that would have set off alarm bells as minister."

Topics:  seqwater wivenhoe dam

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