Cr Rebecca Vonhoff (Photo: Facebook)

October 5, 2021

Water – or rather, the lack of it – has been a topic of great concern lately for local councils.

Toowoomba Regional Council has launched a new water-saving campaign to encourage residents to “Do the Future a Favour, Be a Water Saver”.

“We are experiencing a prolonged drought and we need to think about how our actions can help future generations,” Cr Rebecca Vonhoff said.

“Like many parts of Australia, we do not have the luxury of tapping into unlimited water resources.

“Forecasts of a wet spring are encouraging, however we will have to keep a close eye on water consumption across summer.

“We will need substantial rainfall and runoff across our dam catchments to see a significant rise in our dam levels.

“Our combined dam capacity – for Cressbrook, Perseverance and Cooby dams –  was 30.5 per cent on October 1.”

In the Somerset Regional Council area, Wivenhoe Dam levels are also causing concern.

Wivenhoe Dam has dropped to 40.4 per cent (October 5), close to its lowest level since the Millennium Drought

“Wivenhoe Dam supplies around half of the south-east’s water supply and it’s close to its lowest level in 10 years, at just over 40 per cent,” Urban Utilities spokesperson Michelle Cull said.

“While the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting there may be some rain on the cards for spring, it’s likely it won’t be enough to top up our major dams.

“The region’s water security plan has been put into action and it’s important we all continue to save water.”

For the record, Bjelke-Petersen Dam is currently 6.66 per cent (October 5) and Boondooma Dam is 24.64 per cent (October 5).

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Paul Antonio
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio

The Southern Queensland Inland and NSW Border Regional Water Alliance (SQINB-RWA) met on September 30 and committed to advancing negotiations around planning for the area’s long-term water security.

Alliance chair, Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio, hosted the meeting at Toowoomba City Hall.

It was attended by Water Minister Glenn Butcher along with Mayor Vic Pennisi (Southern Downs), Mayor Lawrence Springborg (Goondiwindi), Mayor Tanya Milligan (Lockyer Valley) and Mayor Peter Petty (Tenterfield). Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh was unable to attend.

“Water is the number one priority for all the authorities represented on the Alliance and I’m pleased to note we have a shared focus around achieving a regional solution for our future water needs,” Mayor Antonio said.

“Improved water security is imperative for our growing region and the wider member councils if we are to fully leverage the opportunities for growth and economic activity that are slated for this area, particularly from private sector investors.”

* * *

The State Government has announced that work has begun on the $20 million Southern Downs drought resilience package – a key part of which is a water pipeline linking Toowoomba to Warwick.

Minister Butcher said funding released for the works includes:

  • $8.1 million in preparatory works for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline, including detailed design, surveying and geotechnical works;
  • $4.6 million in upgrades to reconnect groundwater available to the Allora township freeing up to 350 megalitres of additional Southern Downs urban water supply annually;
  • $1.4 million to support Southern Downs Regional Council to move a range of industries from using urban water supplies to groundwater;
  • $4.54 million to increase Leslie Dam’s usable water capacity by upgrading pumps and water treatment systems, increasing usable storage capacity by an additional 1700 megalitres by the end of 2022; and,
  • $700,000 to support Southern Downs Regional Council investigations into local groundwater supplies for Warwick, Allora and Stanthorpe, and to support Sunwater’s efficiency and innovation investigations at Leslie Dam.

“In addition, the Palaszczuk Government has started the $3 million Regional Water Assessment for the Southern and Darling Downs to explore even more options to bolster water security for the region and ensure regional development opportunities, jobs and growth into the future,” Mr Butcher said.

“Investment in water security is a high priority and once again the Palaszczuk Government is getting on with the job of building water infrastructure to help our state bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever.”

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