Cooby Dam, Toowoomba

The Southern Queensland Inland and New South Wales Regional Water Alliance is advancing plans to advocate for sustainable water supplies for their local government areas, with solutions such as water storage and movement between regions being proposed.

The Mayors of Tenterfield, Goondiwindi, Southern Downs, Western Downs, Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley Regional Councils met in Goondiwindi in August 2022 and agreed to carry through the work of advocating for future water for the combined region.

Toowoomba Region Mayor, Paul Antonio, said the group would continue to come together regularly to discuss and plan for the future water needs of inland Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

“One of the best ways to advocate at a local government level on behalf of our communities is to join forces and that’s exactly what this alliance is looking to achieve, working together to secure the future water needs of our regions for decades to come,” Mr Antonio said.

At its most recent meeting in Goondiwindi, the Alliance agreed that it supports the Queensland State Government’s Southern and Darling Downs Regional Water Assessment but that the team conducting the assessment are limited in its scope and are only looking 30 years ahead.

“The Mayors all agreed that we would run in parallel with this Assessment and advocate strongly for a longer-term, nation-building strategy that will guarantee water security, liveability and productivity in the Downs and Border regions, involving new water sources, for the next 50-100 years,” Mr Antonio said.

“A parallel priority is to establish links with the new Federal Government, through Environment and Water Minister, Tanya Plibersek; Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Kristy McBain; and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King. 

“Queensland’s Senators in leadership roles will be invited to join the team.”

Mr Antonio said all levels of government need to work together on water security. 

“The states own the resources, and the Commonwealth has major funds for water infrastructure, but we all need to be on the same page to ensure projects are delivered that look ahead for 50-100 years’ time,” Mr Antonio said.

“For every good wet season we have, we need to plan ahead for five dry years so that we can better drought-proof our regions. Water is a scarce resource but there are solutions to its storage and movement between regions as needed.

“I look forward to the Southern Queensland Inland and Northern New South Wales Regional Water Alliance continuing to work together to advocate for solutions for our regions.”

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