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Water Update

Monday, 3 August 2020           Water Briefing Update

COVID-19 and provision of water and wastewater services

As the COVID-19 pandemic 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. This level has not changed over the past fortnight.
    • 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 12.85% and 13,653 ML. This level has decreased by 106 ML over the past fortnight.
    • Connolly – current level and volume 83.8% and 1815 ML. This level has decreased by 22 ML over the past fortnight.
    • Based on the latest data and current targeted usage (120 l/p/d), Leslie Dam will take approximately 29 months to reach its minimum operating level. Connolly Dam will be able to supply water for 24 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 (June 2020)     124 l/p/d (May 2020)     124 l/p/d (April 2020)
    • Stanthorpe around    144 l/p/d (June 2020)     140 l/p/d (May 2020)     140 l/p/d (April 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 for water storage level above 460.35m AHD 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 water level reaches 460.35 m AHD. The remaining supply is reserved exclusively for town water supply for Southern Downs Regional Council.

Emergency Water Supply

  • 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 - June 2020 can be found here (PDF 39.2KB).

Pressure and Leakage

  • Leak detection has been completed across the whole network.
  • Leaks continue to be repaired as Council becomes aware of them.
  • Work continues to develop hydraulic models of the water supply network for the strategic management of leaks, efficient pressure management and future planning.

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.

  July 2020 June 2020   May 2020 April 2020 
 Stanthorpe         
 Total Bulk Water Supplied  1.27 ML 1.08 ML   1.34ML  0.98ML
 Water Carters take  1.25 ML 1.04 ML   1.03ML  0.96ML
 Total Visits  110 109   92  114
 Private individual visits  32 45   50  26
Warwick        
 Total Bulk Water Supplied  0.81 ML  0.57 ML  0.72ML  0.47 ML
 Water Carters take   0.79 ML   0.54 ML   0.70ML  0.45 ML
 Total Visits 78  64   80 50
 Private individual visits 17 22  23 17 


Update on compliance notices

  • Council has issued 137 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.
  • This webpage will be updated on a fortnightly basis. Weekly dam levels can be found on the Dam Levels page of this website.
  • 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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