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Australia plans gigantic water release

Feb. 13, 2011 at 7:05 PM   |   Comments

BRISBANE, Australia, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Expecting more floods, Australia has decided to drain a year's supply of drinking water out of a reservoir.

The Wivenhoe Dam in southeastern Queensland will discharge 76.6 billion gallons over the next nine days to prevent Brisbane from being flooded again, The Australian reported Sunday.

Forecasters predict at least three more cyclones off the coast of Queensland by the end of April.

Before the floods, state water authorities kept 300 billion gallons of water in the reservoir. But engineers and hydrologists warned recently that a full reservoir could increase the risk of renewed flooding.

The reservoir peaked at 190 percent capacity at the height of the floods Jan. 11, before water was released. But in mid-2007, it was at 15 percent after years of drought.

"Southeast Queenslanders ... expect us to learn" from the catastrophic floods," Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson said.

"The decision we've taken today is about looking forward for the rest of the wet season and taking a very cautious approach until we get the longer term addressed by the independent commission of inquiry."

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