Regional alliance lends weight to water security

Regional alliance lends weight to water security

11 March 2021

A rising tide lifts all boats and the economic benefit and growth that can be unleased with additional water is immense’ said an excerpt from the report on the Regional Water Alliance delivered to Council at the Ordinary Meeting on 10 March 2021.

Despite predictions of higher than normal autumn rains, water security remains at the forefront of regional discussions as Councils across the Darling Downs consider the future management of this life giving resource.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi and CEO Dave Burges attended the second meeting of the Southern Qld Inland and NSW Border Regional Water Alliance held at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism on 11 February 2021. The meeting included representatives from Toowoomba, Western Downs, Goondiwindi, Lockyer Valley and Tenterfield Regional Councils, Toowoomba & Surat Basin Enterprise, Regional Development Australia – DDSW, Department of Premier and Cabinet and the University of Southern Queensland.

The meeting of the alliance resulted in a broad commitment from all attendees to progress the Water Alliance with all members in principle supporting the incorporation of an entity to represent the Water Alliance.

Southern Downs Councillor Stephen Tancred said that the Mayor and CEO should be fully supported in their membership and activities with the Regional Water Alliance.

“The six Mayors, and in particular our Mayor and CEO, need our open and enthusiastic support on this very important matter of water security’” Councillor Tancred said.

“Governing water resources is a long term strategy and there can be many roadblocks in relation to State Government allocations, aligning with the aims of the Murray Darling Basin Authority and satisfying environmental concerns.

“The 1060 megalitres of surface water reserve from Accommodation Creek and Pikes Creek currently open for tender to farmers on the Southern Downs was released as a result of a 20-year process involving all levels of government.”

Members of the Regional Water Alliance will meet on a rotation basis in the different local government areas and Mayor Pennisi said that he would like to see other Councillors invited to the meetings.

“I think it is important to ensure that Councillors from the region in which a meeting is held are invited as observers so that they can meet the stakeholders and have a feel for the type of discussions being had,” Mayor Pennisi said.

“It is early days for the Alliance, but in my view it is working very well already to open communication channels between regional stakeholders and government.”

The Queensland Government has announced $3m for a Darling Downs Regional Water Assessment.  Once incorporated the first order of business for the Water Alliance will be to advocate to all levels of government for the need for funds to advance a regional water security study in partnership with Government.

Southern Downs Councillor Andrew Gale said “Water catchments and dams don’t follow Council boundaries and as an alliance of Councils, we have a much bigger voice.

“I look forward to supporting the Regional Water Alliance in achieving better outcomes for us all.”

There has never been a better time for National Building Regional infrastructure and on the back of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and the Inland Rail and business cases being developed for regional faster rail, we are in the right place at the right time to advance regional prosperity through greater water security for urban, industry, agriculture and value-added horticulture developments, noted the report.

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