2017 – Tropical Cyclone Debbie – A SunWater Experience

Michael Hughes, James Stuart

Tropical Cyclone Debbie (TC Debbie) formed in the Coral Sea on Saturday 25th March, 2017 and developed into a category 4 system that crossed the coast near Proserpine, Queensland with the eye passing very close to Peter Faust Dam. TC Debbie, later becoming Ex-TC Debbie embarked on a tour of SunWater infrastructure (See Figure 1). Of 23 referable dams managed or owned by SunWater in Queensland, only 3 had no inflows with spills resulting at twelve locations. The paper describes the varied experiences of SunWater with relation to preparation for, and operations during TC Debbie. Some key areas of interest to other dam owners include;

  • Uncertainty around forecasts;
  • Flash flood destruction of key hydrographic equipment;
  • A review into dam operation;
  • Returning a spillway construction site touse;
  • A ‘direct hit’ by the eye of TC Debbie over Peter Faust Dam catchment;
  • Successful prediction of Cyclone rainfall temporal patterns; and
  • A record flood influenced by land use with learnings for flood risk assessments.
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