'The water stinks': Murky future for Burnett tourist park
"YOU see these sticks behind me? They weren't visible when I arrived two weeks ago."
Warwick holidaymaker Ken Ashton has been visiting Mingo Crossing Caravan and Recreation Park, at the edge of Lake Paradise in the North Burnett, for many years.
He said it's "really picked up" over that time, especially after its $2.5 million upgrade earlier this year, jointly funded by the North Burnett Regional Council and State Government via its Building Our Regions program.
However, Mingo Crossing's future as one of the big tourism drawcards of the region is unclear following the State Government's decision to lower the spillway on Paradise Dam by 5m, dropping its capacity from 75 per cent to 42 per cent.
The effect on Mingo is already clear to see, less than a week after water began being released: a pungent odour wafts up from the water's edge as exposed weed rots in the hot sun, mud oozes underfoot, and on the pylons underneath Mingo Crossing Bridge, a dark line shows how far the water has already fallen, about half a metre.
For Mr Ashton, whose hometown is scheduled to run out of water in December 2020, the situation is "ridiculous".
"The amount of water that's been let out here would fill our dams three times over," he said.
"The is the first time in 20 years that my dams have been empty."
Mr Ashton wondered whether a temporary pump could have been located near the dam wall to help save as much water as possible before it went out to sea.
Holidaymakers John and Jenny, who didn't wish to give their last names, from Roma, also slammed the government's decision-making process.
"It's money pissed up against the wall," John said.
"All this money spent here (Mingo Crossing) to make it into something, then to turn around and take the water away," he said.
John and Jenny have been at Mingo Crossing for eight months, but are now pondering their next move
A big drawcard for Jenny was that she could ride her mobility scooter right up to the water's edge to fish from the boat ramp.
She can no longer do that.
John wondered, if the faults in Paradise Dam had been known about for so long, why irrigators weren't given more notice to be able to utilise the water before the spillway was lowered.
About 80,000ML has been made free for irrigators over the next 10-week period.
Mingo Crossing caretaker Chris Collins said this was not as helpful as it seemed.
"They've offered it for free but farmers have just harvested," Mr Collins said.
Aside from the obvious changes to Mingo Crossing - "the water stinks" he said - there are other problems the water's lowering presents.
One is that the pump which services the recreation park is at risk of becoming stranded: there's only 10ft left under it, Mr Collins said, and the level is falling quickly.
Mr Collins said the council had been out monitoring the water level and may make a decision to move the pump if required.
Another problem is that the falling water level may bring underwater hazards close to the surface.
Mr Collins believes that the old Mingo Crossing Bridge, which was inundated when Paradise Dam was created in 2006, may still be lurking under there, adjacent to the current bridge.
"We just don't know how low 42 per cent is," he said.