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Council is currently looking at pressure management across the network as one part of a larger water efficiency program.
Every level of government has a role to play in managing drought and the impacts on the rural community, residents and businesses. Council is currently working with all levels of government to seek funding and support to assist with emergency water supply planning. Council has sought an audience with the relevant Ministers and Premier so that they are fully aware of the extent of the issues.
The Southern Downs and Granite Belt boasts a huge line-up of wonderful events which attract thousands of visitors to the region every year. While these events will place additional demand on the region’s water supplies, if we all work together to manage and sustain our water usage the region can continue to accommodate these events, which deliver a great boost to the region’s economy. As the drought continues, it is important the region’s economy is kept strong and that the Southern Downs and Granite Belt remain ‘open for business’. Council continues to work closely with businesses and accommodation providers to ensure water use is minimised.
Council is not looking at recycled water as a drinking water option due to the high cost to treat it – we would need to upgrade our waste water treatment plants. It is an option for the future but not for the immediate water crisis at Stanthorpe.
Everyone in the community needs to be vigilant about their water usage and take steps to significantly reduce their water consumption. The water we save now is critical until the region gets rain and to how resilient the region will be as the drought continues. Critical level water restrictions are just one way Council is working with the community to reduce water usage and sustain the region’s water supply.
Although Council is focused on the immediate emergency water situation, we are also looking at longer term options, which include piping water from the Clarence River for use by Tenterfield, Southern Downs, Toowoomba and Western Downs Council. Other options include borefields, connecting to the South East Qld water grid and raising the height of the dam walls to increase capacity.
Council is working closely with the State Government on many aspects of both short and long-term water security and has recently submitted funding applications to the State Government to undertake a range of evaluations and activities relating to the region’s water supplies.
Council needs to ensure the region’s water security is well planned into the future. More dams aren’t necessarily the only solution. Water allocations, water harvesting, water recycling and water reuse or the use of bores might also need to be part of a more sophisticated and complex conversation about water options that might be suitable for the region. Council will continue to work with the State and Federal Governments to plan long term water security and to advocate for much needed funding for vital infrastructure.
The scale of this drought is profound and we have a responsibility as a Council and as a community to do the long term planning now, and make some hard decisions to ensure that future generations have the infrastructure, the planning and the tools they need when next they find themselves in this type of climate crisis.
Council will continue to work with specialist consultants, other utilities and local government authorities to develop emergency water supply options. This includes assessing underground water sources from new and existing bores and financing cartage from other water sources. Council is also working closely with the State Government on contingency planning should the region need an emergency water supply. The community is asked to be patient as Council works through the process and finalises details. When Council has all the final details we will share this with the community so they receive the most up to date and correct information.
Due to the high cost of carting water, Council is considering carting water from within the region in order to keep the transport costs to a minimum.