Tuesday, 31 March 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 a normal.
Current levels and expected run out dates
- Current level and volume 18.7% and 385 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 it's minimum operating level in 4 months if water for Stanthorpe was being sourced from the dam.
- Leslie - current level and volume 14.05% and 14,928 ML
- Connolly – current level and volume 87.9% and 1903 ML
- Based on the latest data and current targeted usage (120 l/p/d), Leslie Dam will take approximately 30 months to reach it's 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.
- 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 120 l/p/d (Feb 2020) 111 l/p/d (Jan 2020)
- Stanthorpe around 149 l/p/d (Feb 2020) 138 l/p/d (Jan 2020)
- Water must not be taken from a fire hydrant without the permission of the service provider unless it is for the purpose of fire fighting.
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.
- 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 will gravity feed the water into the existing raw water line at the wall of Storm King Dam.
- Based on daily use of 1.6ML per day, 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.
- 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 will continue to ensure future back-up supply.
- Emergency water supply for Wallangarra will be sourced from an existing, un-used production bore at Paling Yard Road. The bore was recently pump tested and results confirmed that the bore will be able to provide adequate supply to the town should the dams run dry.
- Bore pump is now commissioned and is on standby ready to be used if required in future.
- An emergency water permit has been issued by DNRME to allow Council to take water from this bore.
- Water will be pumped to the Wallangarra water treatment plant from the Soak to be treated prior to distribution to the town.
The Southern Downs Water Contingency Plan - January 2020 can be found here (PDF 36.5KB).
- 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
- Currently reviewing options, however if we desilt below water level, the water quality will be impacted
- A contract for the first phase of desilting of Storm King Dam has been awarded with works to start along the western side of the dam.
Pressure and Leakage
Water Efficiency Management Plans
- Leak detection has been completed across the whole network.
- Leaks continue to be repaired as Council becomes aware of them
- 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 businesses to reduce their water consumption. 11 Water Efficiency Management Plans have been approved and those businesses struggling to reduce their water consumption are encouraged to complete a Water Saving Action Plan.
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.
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.
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Update on compliance notices
- Council has issued 120 compliance notices to date and 16 fines.
- Water consumption continues to be monitored across the region.
- 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.
- Council will display information relating to water on its website.
- Council will display all information relating to the drought and current water crisis under a specific tab on the Council website.
- The Southern Downs Regional Council website should be the primary reference point for all questions relating to the water crisis. Every aspect related to the water crisis will be placed on a tab on the front page of the site. 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.
- Each Monday the Mayor will respond to important questions from the community that can be submitted either by email (email@example.com) or via the Council Facebook page. The Mayor will provide these responses via a video message on the website, Facebook page and YouTube. The video message will aim to be informative and provide answers to specific questions where possible.
- Council will facilitate additional community information sessions or Questions and Answers forums in the coming months. These sessions and forums will have a focus on water and water conservation, as well allowing members of the community to ask about other Council related activities.