Paul Antonio
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio

November 26, 2019

Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio has called for further consultation on a feasibility study to pump water from Wivenhoe Dam to supply towns in the Southern Downs Region.

Wivenhoe Dam is the major water storage for the Brisbane and Greater Ipswich areas.

Pipelines from the dam also supply a back-up to the Tarong Power Stations and to Cressbrook Dam which services customers on the Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply Scheme.

On Tuesday morning, Wivenhoe Dam was at 47 per cent capacity.

“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,” Mayor 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.”

A 38km pipeline connects Wivenhoe Dam to Cressbrook Dam to provide a back-up to Toowoomba’s water supply.

The TRC began pumping water from Wivenhoe Dam in April this year after Cressbrook Dam levels fell below a trigger level, the first time in eight years the $187 million water security pipeline has had to be used.

“This is a conversation that should have been happening a long time ago and is why we built the current pipeline from Wivenhoe back in 2010 and it’s why we’re continually having further discussions on our long-term security, despite our dams being a third full,” Mayor Antonio said.

“While I’m disappointed we haven’t been more included in the conversations to date, I believe this underlines how important it is for all levels of government to be working together to look at alternative options such as a pipeline which connects to the head of the Clarence River system that could provide long-term water security, not only for Southern Downs, but Toowoomba and surrounding areas.

“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.”

Cr Nancy Sommerfield raised concerns a new pipeline 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,” she said.

“We’re dependent on the water from the pipeline to Wivenhoe and are pumping for 10 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.

“This drought is having a terrible impact on many regions, not just ours and the Southern Downs, but rather than reducing the Toowoomba Region’s current water path dramatically, which in turn will impact our residents’ water use, I encourage both the State Government and Southern Downs to come together with our Council to discuss potential solutions that would bring long-term water security to everyone.

“The door has always been open for discussions, but no one has knocked yet.”

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