Investigation will begin into new water supply options for the struggling community of Warwick in Queensland and surrounding areas with a potential new pipeline among those being considered.
Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said a potential pipeline, which would deliver Wivenhoe Dam water to Warwick, would be among options considered as part of a $1 million feasibility study into contingency water supply options, to be completed in consultation with local councils.
“While water supply is a particular concern for a number of communities, I will not let Queensland families run out of drinking water,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We have already committed $2.4 million for infrastructure and $800,000 per month to transport water to Stanthorpe.
“With more than 15,000 residents and businesses depending on Warwick’s local water supply, carting water is not a practical option. That’s why my government will work with the Southern Downs Regional Council to explore viable solutions for the communities dependent on the Warwick supply.”
Leslie Dam is down to less than six per cent capacity and it’s estimated that Warwick has a maximum of 14 months of supply based on the current predictions of below average rainfall.
“A pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam to Cressbrook Dam already exists to augment Toowoomba’s water supply in times of drought. It makes sense to now explore whether it is feasible to extend the supply network to Warwick,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“By linking Warwick through Toowoomba to the South East Queensland Water Grid, we could significantly improve supply security to the city and those who depend on it.”
Ms Palaszczuk said Seqwater, operator of the South East Queensland Water Grid, would lead the study, reporting back to government on the preferred option by April 2020.
However, Toowoomba Region Mayor, Paul Antonio, has called for further consultation on the feasibility study, saying he was disappointed the Toowoomba community was not included in discussions more.
“I fully understand how dire the situation is for the Southern Downs Region and welcome all ideas on how water could be brought to those towns that are in desperate need of water, however, it’s important we’re included in these discussions as any decision made will have a major impact on the Toowoomba region,” Mr Antonio said.
“We’re open to the feasibility study taking place, but I’m deeply disappointed we weren’t more involved in the consultation process considering we are a significant stakeholder that will be impacted.
“While I’m sympathetic to the needs of Southern Downs and have been in ongoing discussions with their Mayor on potential water solutions, I also have a responsibility to the people of the Toowoomba region and need to make sure our long-term water security is secured.
“Any potential decision to pump water from Toowoomba to Warwick could compromise our situation.
“I expressed these opinions to the Prime Minister recently and would be more than happy to meet with the Premier to have further discussions on this matter.”
Water and Waste Committee Chair, Nancy Sommerfield, echoed comments from the Mayor and raised concerns on how this decision could place further strain on the existing water assets.
“As part of our current agreement we’re able to pump 10,000ML/year which provides the Toowoomba region with water security until 2049,” Ms Sommerfield said.
“We’re dependent on the water from the pipeline to Wivenhoe and are pumping for ten months of the year to reach this allocation, which allows two months for necessary maintenance.
“If we were required to pump more water through that pipeline, this would place a great deal of strain on the current asset, making it more vulnerable to failure. It would also bring our water security from 2049 forward considerably.”