The Queensland Government announced $300 million in funding for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline to support water security and regional development.
Construction will start soon on long-term water security for the Southern Downs and several Toowoomba communities now that funding is secured.
Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said water security was vital for the Southern Downs and Granite Belt.
“During the drought we invested $15 million to cart water from Connolly Dam near Warwick, and $19 million for a drought resilience package,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Thankfully the rains came, but drought can return.
“We know that residents and the Toowoomba and Southern Downs Regional Councils want certainty about this project, and this government has always provided regional communities with critical infrastructure and services.
“The pre-construction phase could start within the next few months, with a proposed completion date of mid-2026, subject to consultation with the councils.
“Construction of the pipeline will deliver approximately 420 jobs to the local communities, as well as long-term water security, which is critical to jobs, economic growth and liveability of Queensland communities.”
Recent projections provided to Southern Downs Regional Council indicate that without further inflows Leslie Dam will be depleted by August/September 2026.
The pipeline will carry water from Wivenhoe Dam and connect with Toowoomba Regional Council’s existing water infrastructure, to deliver water to Warwick and Toowoomba’s satellite communities along the way.
“Having certainty of drinking water supplies gives the community confidence, as well as the small businesses and industry that rely on councils’ reticulated supplies,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Our Government is a Government for all of Queensland and it’s fantastic to be taking this next step.”
Ms Palaszczuk said it was great news for the future prosperity of the communities, particularly the Southern Downs region which suffered from the prolonged drought.
Queensland Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher, said the project builds on the government’s strong record of support and investment in water in the region and has been a great opportunity for the two levels of government to come together, and work on delivering the best outcomes for the communities into the future.
”This project will deliver a reliable drought contingency supply for the Southern Downs communities of Warwick, Allora, Killarney, Yangan and Stanthorpe and provide a permanent water supply for the Toowoomba satellite communities of Nobby, Clifton, Greenmount and Cambooya,” Mr Butcher said.
“These communities have been some of the hardest hit by drought in recent years and we know that water security is so vital. While the dams are currently in a better state after recent rain, we know it doesn’t take long for supplies to deplete, particularly due to evaporation during long dry periods.
“While we’ve provided support to the Southern Downs through carting water and Toowoomba has been carting to its smaller satellite communities, we know locals want to see these issues fixed and this is a huge step forward.”
Mr Butcher said Toowoomba residents could also be confident that the pipeline would not impact their existing water supply, while providing drought resilience to surrounding communities.
“In 2020 Warwick residents watched their water supply in the Leslie Dam dwindle to just four per cent, with the projection that the dam would run out of water later that year,” Mr Butcher said.
Seqwater has delivered detailed designs for the pipeline and will continue working with stakeholders in moving into the delivery phase of the pipeline.
“Having seen this region during the worst of the drought, spoken with the Mayors and local irrigators and community members, I know how important the issue of water security is to them and I really understand this as a regional member myself,” Mr Butcher said.
“Water is so vital to regional communities and regional development and this government understands that.”
The Queensland Government has a strong history of providing support to the region, particularly through the $19.34 million Southern Downs Drought Resilience Package, which contained measures to ensure a reliable and lasting drought contingency water supply for the Southern Downs region.
This included the installation of new pumps at Leslie Dam to allow for accessing more water storage as well as investigative works into the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline, commissioning of groundwater bores, and upgrades to water treatment systems.
The Queensland Government also invested in carting water to Stanthorpe during the worst of the drought, in keeping with the Premier’s commitment to not let any Queensland community run out of drinking water.
With strengthened water security, Stanthorpe, Warwick and Toowoomba can thrive beyond their current standing as major agricultural and tourist centres and the Palaszczuk Government will continue its strong record of investment in the region to bolster that growth.
The State Government has also invested $9 million in the Regional Water Assessment program, which will set a roadmap for economic growth in three of Queensland’s significant food bowls, including Southern and Darling Downs.
Through these measures, the Queensland Government is working with local communities to support short, medium and long-term water security needs to ensure Queensland’s regions continue to prosper into the future.
For further information about the Drought Resilience Package, visit the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water’s website.