THE Department of Water has dismissed claims it has mismanaged the regulation of dam safety in Queensland.
"Five of the nine actions are implemented, with all on track to be completed by mid next year," the statement reads.
"This report was about the systems and processes the department has in place to regulate dam safety."
About a third of Queensland's 107 referable dams will require safety upgrades between now and 2035.
"All referable dams due for upgrade in 2015 were completed on schedule," the department's statement reads.
"All referable dams due to be upgraded in 2025 are on schedule.
"Our state-owned dams are safe, and part of a rolling dam improvement program."
However, Shadow Minister for Water, Deb Frecklington, said the findings showed the government was losing control of its core responsibilities.
"These governance issues identified by the Auditor General show the government is gambling with Queenslanders' safety and the future of water security," Ms Frecklington said.
"At a time when Queensland is experiencing rapid population growth, the government should be focused on building new dams to meet future demand.
"Instead, this report shows very clearly the government is failing to maintain the few dams they currently have.
"The fish rots from the head, and these failings must be addressed by the Premier and her minister."
Queensland's Water Minister Glenn Butcher said he would be closely monitoring his department's implementation of the recommendations in the QAO report.
"We take dam safety very seriously - including for privately owned referable dams," Mr Butcher said.
"Our state owned dams are safe, and part of a rolling dam improvement program.
"That's why we took action on Paradise Dam - to guarantee the safety of the surrounding communities."
Tom Marland, a Bundaberg-based lawyer who is leading the Paradise Dam class action on behalf of farmers, said the Queensland Audit Office report had raised serious questions about dam safety in Queensland.
"The Auditor-General's report clearly suggests the department's negligence could result in dam failure and loss of life due to dam operators not being appropriately monitored," Mr Marland said.
"The Auditor-General examined how the dam safety regulator collects and uses information from owners to manage risks to dam safety and concluded that the department is not effectively managing information it collects or targeting risks to non-compliance.
"It's very sobering to read this report and realise the Department of Water appears shockingly casual about dam safety compliance."
It's very sobering to read this report and realise the Department of Water appears shockingly casual about dam safety compliance.- Tom Marland, lawyer
Retired dam engineer Ken Pearce said while welcome, the report did not go far enough to address inherent dam safety issues.
"Until we see a major rethink of how we design, build and manage dams in this state we are going to continue to see poor outcomes like Paradise Dam," Mr Pearce said.
"At the end of the day, if the dam safety regulator had done their job properly, the situation with Paradise Dam would never have happened."
The Department of Water said all referable dam owners - including private owners - would be required to provide an annual report on the progress on any referable dams requiring safety upgrades.
"The department has consulted widely on the new guidelines and the new arrangements have the support of major dam owners and peak bodies including Engineers Australia and the Australian National Committee on Large Dams," the statement reads.
Mr Marland said while the theme of the past two years had been 'keeping Queenslanders safe' the Auditor-General's report cast serious doubt on the government's ability to meet its safety obligations.
"It just begs the question," Mr Marland said.
"If the department had been more on the ball with dam safety in the past, would we have ended up in the situation where a dam is cut in half and a community robbed of its water security.
"Perhaps earlier action by the Dam Safety Regulator could have prevented the situation with Paradise Dam occurring in the first place."
In September 2019 SunWater announced it was releasing 100,000 megalitres from the dam in order to permanently lower the dam wall, to address safety concerns.
SunWater declined to comment on its confidence in the Department of Water's handling of dam safety. Instead the government owned corporation directed Queensland Country Life back to the department.
Want daily news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Queensland Country Life newsletter below.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.