The Queensland Government has invested more than $20 million in infrastructure projects to upgrade the South East Queensland water grid to secure the water supply of the Sunshine Coast.
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, said the investment was designed to increase the capacity of the water grid to move more water to the Sunshine Coast in times of need.
In addition, Brisbane is continuing to supplement Sunshine Coast water supplies to help guard against drought-like conditions experienced by the region over 2014 to 2017.
“While Sunshine Coast dams are now full, they are relatively small and can be drawn down quickly,” Dr Lynham said.
“The Sunshine Coast’s dams have traditionally been among the most reliable across South East Queensland, with good inflows at least every second year.
“The past few years though have highlighted that we cannot always rely on those inflows, and must plan for local droughts that last three or more years.”
A new Aspley Water Quality Management Facility is currently being built to allow more water treated at the Mt Crosby Water Treatment Plant to move safely into the northern parts of the water grid.
“In October (2017), the Sunshine Coast’s major dam, Baroon Pocket was at 45 per cent capacity after consecutive failed wet seasons and record low inflows,” Dr Lynham said.
“Sunshine Coast families who were relying on tank water were forced to face waiting times of three to four weeks for refills as tank levels hit zero.
“These projects will help supplement the northern region by improving Seqwater’s capacity to transport drinking water from the central Brisbane region to help conserve Sunshine Coast dams when we need to.’’
Dr Lynham said that South East Queensland was better positioned to respond to drought and future water demand because of the Queensland Government’s investment in Australia’s first water grid and climate resilient supplies including the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme.
“In South East Queensland, we live in a climate of extremes. Last year was a perfect example when our dams on the Gold Coast were brimming and overflowing, while our Sunshine Coast storages, particular Baroon Pocket, were experiencing record low inflows.
“We need to plan accordingly to meet our water supply requirements in good times and bad.”
Seqwater Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dan Spiller, said the Aspley Water Quality Management Facility was one of a number of projects underway to shore up the Sunshine Coast water supplies.
In addition, in July 2017, Seqwater also restarted the Ewen Maddock Water Treatment Plant.
“We have been moving water from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast since the middle of last year to supplement Sunshine Coast supply. This will be our normal operations mode unless Baroon Pocket Dam is full or close to full,” Mr Spiller said.
“Sunshine Coast dams only contribute about 126,000 megalitres or about four per cent of water consumption in South East Queensland.
“We must invest in our water supply infrastructure to supply the growing population in these regions. This investment in the Northern Pipeline Interconnector is our first step.”
Other infrastructure projects to boost water supply security on the Sunshine Coast include:
- Sparkes Hill to Aspley Pipeline Capacity Upgrade – involves upgrading the capacity of bulk water infrastructure between the Sparkes Hill Reservoir (Stafford) and Aspley Reservoir (Aspley) to allow more water (125ML/day) produced at the Mt Crosby Water Treatment Plant to supplement supply to the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast regions
- Byrnes Road pump station pressure sustaining valve – to help move treated water from the North Pine Water Treatment up the Northern Pipeline Interconnector to the Sunshine Coast (this is complete)
- Aspley to Narangba Capacity Upgrade – similar to the Sparkes Hill to Aspley Pipeline Capacity Upgrade, this project will allow more water treated at the Mt Crosby Water Treatment Plant to supplement supply to the north
- Woombye Connection – This project involves constructing a new bulk water connection at Paynters Creek, Montville to allow water from the Northern Pipeline Interconnector (NPI) to be supplied to the Maroochy area
- NPI Pump Station Reliability Project –This project involves investment in monitoring systems and equipment protections, critical spares and the development of contingency plans so that the these critical pump stations can meet reliability requirements
- Eudlo Flow Meter and Control Valve – This project will improve control of supply into the Sunshine Coast so that water supply from Baroon Pocket Dam can be minimised
- NPI Control System Upgrades – This project will implement monitoring control system upgrades for the NPI to improve system control, enable planned operating strategies and improve reliability