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Water Update

Monday, 25 May 2020           Water Briefing Update

COVID-19 and provision of water and wastewater services

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, Southern Downs Regional Council is focused on ensuring business as usual continuity for water and wastewater services across the region. Residents can rest assured that provision of drinking water and sanitation services will continue as normal.

Current levels and expected run out dates

  • Stanthorpe
    • Current level and volume 17.5% and 362 ML.
    • Water remains in Storm King Dam as a contingency for emergency events and to provide a habitat for aquatic life. Based on current usage, Storm King Dam would reach its minimum operating level in 3 months if water for Stanthorpe was being sourced from the dam.
  • Warwick
    • Leslie - current level and volume 13.28% and 14,110 ML
    • Connolly – current level and volume 82.2% and 1781 ML
    • Based on the latest data and current targeted usage (120 l/p/d), Leslie Dam will take approximately 30 months to reach its minimum operating level. Connolly Dam will be able to supply water for 23 months based on current water usage. This includes the supply of water to Stanthorpe and will be dependent on water quality.
Water Restrictions 

  • In light of current circumstances and to give residents confidence that they have access to sufficient quantities of water to protect themselves against COVID-19 through good hygiene practices, Council further relaxed water restrictions to 120 litres per person per day as of 18 March 2020.
  • Extreme level water restrictions will be enforced by Council through the Southern Downs Region, including the township of Jennings in NSW.
    • The target for residential properties is 120 litres/person/day (l/p/d)
    • Council will continue to assist residents and businesses to reduce their water consumption.
  • Drinking water supplied by Southern Downs Regional Council is only available for use by Southern Downs Regional Council residents.
  • Whilst some rainfall has been received in parts of the region, water restrictions remain in place. Council urges people to do all they can to meet the extreme level water consumption target of 120 l/p/d.
    • Warwick around        124 l/p/d (April 2020)     122 l/p/d (Mar 2020) 120 l/p/d (Feb 2020)
    • Stanthorpe around    140 l/p/d (April 2020)     146 l/p/d (Mar 2020) 149 l/p/d (Feb 2020)
  • Water must not be taken from a fire hydrant without permission from Council unless it is for the purpose of firefighting.
  • Whilst water restrictions have been lifted for businesses, Council urges all businesses to be water aware and to continue water saving practices.
  • Council continues to work with community members to ensure events can proceed with minimal water consumption, and whenever possible, water is to be sourced from an alternative supply.

Water release from Leslie Dam by Sunwater

  • Water allocation above 14,960 ML dam volume (14.08%) is managed by Sunwater in accordance with the user agreements between Sunwater and licence holders. Sunwater controls how and when this water is released.
  • All releases for irrigation cease once the dam volume reaches 14,960 ML. The remaining supply is reserved exclusively for town water supply for Southern Downs Regional Council.

Options Report

  • Stanthorpe emergency supply
    • Full time water carting is still underway from Connolly Dam raw water line in Warwick to Stanthorpe
      • Water is transferred  into 2 x 1 megalitre tanks which gravity feeds the water into the existing raw water line near the wall of Storm King Dam. 
      • Varying with demand, between 40 and 50 truckloads of water per day are required.
      • Council upgraded the turn into Storm King Dam access road from Eukey Road, as well as Storm King Dam access road.
      • Additional treatment units are in operation at Stanthorpe Water Treatment Plant to treat the water from Connolly Dam.
      • Filling points are now being used to fill with raw water from the Connolly Dam raw water line.
      • The State Government has committed $2.4 million to the upgrade works as detailed above.  The State Government is also paying the cartage costs of $800,000 per month ongoing until February 2021.
      • It is important that the water continues to be conserved and that the community remains vigilant in their water use to ensure the minimal amount of water is carted and the transportation costs are kept down.
      • Contingency arrangements are in place for water carting to minimise any risk to Stanthorpe water supply from unforeseen events such as road closures due to bushfire, road accidents or to manage weather driven water quality changes.
      • Water carting to Stanthorpe will continue until a sufficient water level in Storm King Dam is restored.

  • Warwick emergency supply
    • Leslie Dam - Recent rain has restored the water level in Leslie Dam which has restored the Warwick/Allora/Yangan water supply.
    • Investigation to source supplementary water will continue to source backup water for future use.
    • Council is in discussion with Toowoomba Regional Council and Seqwater to supply water to Warwick via a new pipeline.
    • This is a State government led project.
  • Wallangarra emergency supply

Recent rainfall has restored the water level in both the Beehive Dam and The Soak to full capacity. Current storage in both these dams has sufficient water to supply water to Wallangarra and part of Jennings for over 18 months. Water is currently sourced from the Beehive Dam.Work associated with sourcing emergency water supply for Wallangarra is now complete and can be brought online as required. 

The Southern Downs Water Contingency Plan - March 2020 can be found here (PDF 35.6KB).

    Dam Survey

    • Storm King and Connolly Dam – both have between 100-150ML (estimated) less water available due to siltation – across the whole dam area.
    • This had an immaterial impact on the supply.
    • Leslie Dam – no material impact from silt levels.
    • Desilting (Phase 1) of Storm King Dam is now complete and this work has restored some of the dam storage capacity.

    Pressure and Leakage

    • Leak detection has been completed across the whole network.
    • Leaks continue to be repaired as Council becomes aware of them

    Emergency Water Utility Charge 

    • The Utility Charge policy was brought in as part of the budget
    • It is included as part of the Revenue Statement, the Revenue statement cannot be revised or altered during the year
    • The Utility Charge policy would only be enacted if; 
      • The State Government did not provide funding for supplying water to residents across the Southern Downs
      • The Federal Government did not provide funding for supplying water to residents across the Southern Downs
      • Council had exhausted all operational and capital funds, including cash reserves
    • It is likely that funding will be made available through both the State and Federal Governments
    • It is important that Council plan for all scenarios.
    • On 13 September 2019 the State Government announced funding for the water carting of $800,000 per month to ensure a secure drinking water supply for Stanthorpe until 2021.

    Standpipes 
    The Warwick and Stanthorpe standpipes are now open for use by all Avdata key holders 24/7. The restriction of 2000 litres/week or 8000 litres/month remains in place for private users.

      April 2020  March 2020  February 2020  January 2020
     Stanthorpe         
     Total Bulk Water Supplied  0.98 ML 0.59ML  0.30ML 2.66ML
     Water Carters take  0.96 ML 0.57ML  0.27ML 2.45ML
     Total Visits  114 61  36 317
     Private individual visits  26 26  24 185
    Warwick        
     Total Bulk Water Supplied  0.47 ML  0.41ML  0.11ML 1.24ML
     Water Carters take  0.45 ML 0.407ML  0.09ML 1.16ML
     Total Visits  50 39   15 169
     Private individual visits 17   8 78


    Update on compliance notices

    • Council has issued 135 compliance notices to date and 16 fines.
    • Water consumption continues to be monitored across the region.

    Communications

    • The Southern Downs Regional Council website should be the primary reference point for all questions relating to the water crisis.
    • Updates will be provided on a regular basis to the website on key issues such as water restrictions, storage forecasts and water conservation tips, as well as frequently asked questions.
    • Important questions from the community can be submitted either by email (drought@sdrc.qld.gov.au) or via the Council Facebook page.

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