July 6, 2018
Falling water levels at Boondooma Dam are raising concerns for the State Government as well as irrigators dependent on supplies from the dam.
Departmental officers will visit Mundubbera on Friday to work with the North Burnett Regional Council and irrigators on local water supply issues.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the issue required a collaborative solution, and departmental staff would start the ball rolling.
“I understand the importance of Boondooma Dam to the North and South Burnett, and how concerned locals are about falling water supplies,” he said.
“My departmental staff will get a better handle from councils on the town water situation and the individual water supply circumstances of growers so we can all develop a way forward together.
“It’s a complex situation that needs a collaborative strategy to balance water supply, cost, and energy security.”
The 204,200 megalitre capacity Boondooma Dam provides critical water supply for local households as well as agricultural and industrial customers, including the Tarong Power Stations.
The dam water level is currently 37.6 per cent.
If levels drop to 34 per cent, water allocations for irrigators will be restricted to safeguard water supplies for town water and power generation.
On current usage levels and evaporation rates, this could occur within as little as two to three months.
“SunWater, as the operator of the dam, has been talking with local growers and Council since the start of the year about how to maximise water efficiency,” Dr Lynham said.
“Sunwater and Stanwell Corporation, who operate Tarong power station, are also working on short and long-term solutions.
“Reliable and secure water is paramount and I look forward to seeing a collaborative strategy from Friday’s meeting to work out the next steps.”
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Earlier this week, SunWater released the “announced allocations” for the Barker-Barambah Water Scheme.
It had been predicted that irrigators would face a 1 to 6 per cent drop in Medium Priority water allocations, down from 17 per cent to 10-16 per cent.
However, the final result is at the lower end of the scale. ie. 10 per cent.
This means irrigators on the scheme will have only 10 per cent of their purchased water entitlement available for use within the next “water year” (which began on July 1).
SunWater has not released the “announced allocations” for the Boyne River & Tarong Water Scheme (linked to Boondooma Dam, above) but the predicted amounts had indicated a 55 to 95 per cent drop in Medium Priority water allocations, ie. down from 100 per cent for irrigators in 2017-18 to between 5 and 45 per cent.