THE storm yesterday afternoon has pushed the water level at Leslie Dam near Warwick to spill over point for the first time in over 20 years. 

The water started spilling at 9:00pm last night (5 January 2011) and the gates were opened at 10pm. 

Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham said: "This is a significant historical event, having only occurred twice before in the Dam's history.

"It's an amazing sight, however, from a safety point of view, we urge anyone in the area to obey all signage and direction from any officials.

"These waters are incredibly powerful and it is important to act safely around them.

"We understand that SunWater will be working hard to minimise any downstream effects."

Speaking as rain continued to fall across the region this morning, Cr Bellingham said:  "I'm somewhat relieved that there is a release, as it does provide a cushion to lower the potential level of a future flood if this rain continues."

He said while the Bureau of Meteorology had yesterday scaled back its rain predictions, the current rain "is very significant and will have a rapid effect on the Condamine River should it continue at the rate it is".

"This rain will certainly hamper the continuing efforts of Council staff to make our roads safe, but we will be making our best efforts to fix damaged areas within the constrains of this weather.

"I'd like to thank all the staff working under these difficult conditions."

This is only the third time the dam has been full since it was extended in 1986.  The other two times were:

- May 28, 1990 (13cm over the spillway).

- September 12, 1986 (20cm above the spillway)

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a flood warning for the Condamine and Balonne river systems last night.

Storms are forecast for the region today which could bring further flooding to the area.

For more weather information, see our weather page.


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