November 29, 2019
Toowoomba Regional Council was only informed the night before a media release went out about a State Government feasibility study to use its infrastructure to supply water to Warwick, Cr Nancy Sommerfield has claimed.
In a long post on social media on Friday, Cr Sommerfield – the chair of TRC’s Water and Waste committee – said neither the State Government nor the Southern Downs Regional Council had consulted with Toowoomba over the extension of the Wivenhoe pipeline to Warwick.
“I first heard about the Southern Downs Regional Council’s plans to pipe water from Toowoomba to Warwick when I read in the paper that SDRC was applying for Federal Government funding to build it a few months back,” Cr Sommerfield said.
“I thought I must have missed something, so at that time I asked our Mayor, CEO and General Manager if they had been in talks with SDRC about a potential pipeline. They all said ‘No’.”
Cr Sommerfield said the TRC had done a lot of work on its water grid “yet Southern Downs Regional Council and the State Government never consulted this Council to ask our thoughts or get any facts about our Toowoomba Regional Council-owned water grid”.
“A phone call to the Mayor by the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy at 8:30pm the night before a press release went out advising a feasibility study would be done, and a few texts to the Mayor the next morning by Mayor of SDRC was the respect shown to Council in relation to use of this Council’s assets,” Cr Sommerfield said.
“The SDRC Mayor then met with the Premier that day to make further announcements.
“At the very least, wouldn’t it be appropriate for our Mayor to also be at that meeting? Many words come to my mind at this point…”
Cr Sommerfield said if water was taken from Toowoomba to Warwick by simply constructing a pipeline, it would reduce Toowoomba’s water security from 2049 to 2024.
“It has already been proposed that it would take approximately 24 months to build the pipeline (even though they don’t know what that looks like yet) and Warwick will run out of water in 14 months,” she said.
Cr Sommerfield said to effectively deliver water to Warwick from Wivenhoe Dam in a way that would not affect the Toowoomba Region’s water security would require, at least:
- Duplication of the Wivenhoe pipeline,
- Duplication of the Wivenhoe pumps,
- Additional / replacement pipeline from dams to water treatment plant, and
- A new water treatment plant, as the TRC plant was heading toward capacity.
She said if the plan was to send non-potable water to Warwick, it would be a much longer pipeline.
“Our council is currently considering building a pipeline from Toowoomba to Clifton, including all the townships in between, due to the ongoing issues with aquifers under stress,” Cr Sommerfield said.
“The impact of building this pipeline reduces the Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply water security by one year, ie currently the TBWS water security would reduce from 2049 to 2048.
“That has all been based on the size of pipe required for those townships. Wouldn’t it be better to run one potable water pipeline to meet requirements of both councils with one water treatment plant instead of many?”
- Related article: TRC Wants A Say On Pipeline