The Queensland Government has announced that work will begin to investigate a new water supply pipeline for drought-stricken Warwick and surrounding communities.
Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said a potential new pipeline to deliver Wivenhoe Dam water to Warwick would be among options considered as part of a $1 million feasibility study into contingency water supply options, to be completed in consultation with local councils.
“My government is getting out into the communities hit hard by the devastating drought and offering real, tangible, effective and concrete assistance through our $195 million Drought Assistance Package which delivers rebates for what our farmers require – water, power and fodder management,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“While water supply is a particular concern for a number of communities, I will not let Queensland families run out of drinking water.
“We have already committed $2.4 million for infrastructure and $800,000 per month to transport water to Stanthorpe.
“With more than 15,000 residents and businesses depending on Warwick’s local water supply, carting water is not a practical option. That’s why my government will work with the Southern Downs Regional Council to explore viable solutions for the communities dependent on the Warwick supply.”
Leslie Dam is down to less than six per cent capacity, and it’s estimated that Warwick has a maximum of 14 months of supply based on the current predictions of below average rainfall.
“A pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam to Cressbrook dam already exists to augment Toowoomba’s water supply in times of drought. It makes sense to now explore whether it is feasible to extend the supply network to Warwick,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“By linking Warwick through Toowoomba to the South East Queensland Water Grid, we could significantly improve supply security to the city and those who depend on it.”
The Premier said Seqwater, operator of the South East Queensland Water Grid, would lead the study, reporting back to government on the preferred option by April 2020.
“Seqwater has the right expertise to undertake the feasibility study in close cooperation with the Toowoomba Regional Council and the Southern Downs Regional Council,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Since this drought crisis began in 2013, the Queensland Government has committed more than $740 million to deliver real, practical measures to the state’s drought-stricken communities.
“The impacts of drought are far reaching. It impacts employment across agriculture, retail, service and tourism industries and drives people away from rural communities.
“The Queensland Government is standing shoulder to shoulder with our primary producers and drought-stricken communities, and we will continue to have their backs while this devastating drought continues.”
Queensland’s Natural Resources Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, said the pipeline option was only available to Warwick because of the foresight of past governments.
“The south-east Queensland water grid, built by Labor, connects Wivenhoe Dam and 39 other dams and reservoirs,” Dr Lynham said.
“This makes SEQ’s water supply one of the most reliable in the country, and in turn, is now making this contingency water option potentially available to Warwick.”