Townsville City Council has reached an agreement with SunWater to pump water from the Burdekin Dam in Queensland, ensuring continued supply during current drought conditions.
The council now has access to 16,000ML of high priority water from SunWater and an agreement for the rights to 20,000ML of medium priority water, enough to supplement reserves in Ross River Dam through to mid-2017.
Securing the rights to the high and medium priority reserves in the Burdekin will provide the council with 223 days of water available to pump.
The Burdekin pipeline was built specifically for times of drought, and this year will be the first time the city has had to pump for a substantial period for more than 20 years.
The agreement was reached after SunWater CEO Nicole Hollows and SunWater chair Leith Boully travelled from Brisbane to discuss the issue at a special council meeting.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the water allocations from the Burdekin Dam would safeguard Townsville’s supply against another failed wet season.
“Our priority is to secure Townsville’s water supply well into next year with a contingency that will safeguard the city against another failed wet season,” Ms Hill said.
“It was pleasing to have SunWater at today’s meeting to confirm that water from the Burdekin was guaranteed and they were willing to work with council on an acceptable agreement for the city.
“While the council will plan and budget for every eventuality, if we receive decent rain in the Ross River Dam catchment and the pumps are turned off, we will only pay for what we use.
“As a result of this agreement, the purchase price and pumping costs for the entire water allocations would be $7.657 million, but significantly less if we get a wet season.
“That’s well below the amount of $12.4 million for a year’s supply of water as high priority originally proposed in November, and justifies our decision to carry over negotiations after the wet season.”
The Ross Dam is expected to fall to the 20 per cent trigger point for level three restrictions towards late July 2016, with pumping from the Burdekin likely in late August to early September 2016.