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Mayor seeks Brisbane support for urban water supply

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Mayor requests support from Brisbane for urban water supply

Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor Cr Graeme Scheu has presented the case of the Goondiwindi region in Brisbane to request assistance with the region’s urban water supply.

Cr Scheu met with the Queensland Government’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) and the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet to explain the unprecedented situation that currently grips the Goondiwindi region, and to request their assistance in securing both an immediate and long-term water supply.

Council has also commissioned a report by water consultants GHD that will investigate and cost all options available to Council in supplementing the region’s urban water supplies. The report will include long-term, medium-term and short-term scenarios. A similar report by the same consultant group helped Southern Downs Regional Council to secure drought assistance measures from the Queensland Government, including $2.4 million worth of water infrastructure, as well as costs to cart water.

Council will present this report to the Premier later this week.

The entire Goondiwindi region is currently on medium water restrictions. Council will discuss the introduction of high-level restrictions at its December meeting, as the region’s traditional water supply sources are at serious risk of running dry without significant rain.

Council has been working with DNRME, SunWater and WaterNSW to monitor the available water in the region and has been guided by their advice about each town’s available capacity. With no more scheduled inflows, the region will soon be in a very precarious position unless it receives significant rainfall in its catchment areas.

“The recent small falls have done nothing to improve the water supply situation and we need some big falls in the catchment to assist with supply issues,” Cr Scheu said.

“It has reached a critical point where we need to act now. We are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst scenario. Each area of the district is in a different situation but water is precious in every sector and we need every resident to decrease their water consumption as per Council’s water restriction targets.

“I would rather be on the conservative but safe side rather than come back with a bombshell of saying we are out of water in the river and we have no plan B,” the Mayor said.

Goondiwindi Regional Council has already begun to implement several of the options that the GHD report will list: these include two alluvial bores in Texas and Yelarbon that, once fully equipped, should ease the pressure for those two towns.

This morning, Cr Scheu also stated Council’s intention to establish supplementary bores at Goondiwindi and, if possible, Inglewood.

The GHD report will detail several options for each of the region’s towns. These include:

GOONDIWINDI

Goondiwindi has historically relied upon the Macintyre River, which has previously always proved to be reliable. The Mayor has pointed to one occasion in 1940, before the weirs were established, when records show the river actually went dry. On this occasion, channels had to be dug to get water to the pump sites in place. With this in mind, and with no end to the current drought in sight, Council is planning for a worst-case scenario and is looking at a number of alternatives for long-term water supply for the town.

Some 3,500 ML of water was delivered to Boggabilla Weir in the recent release, increasing the stored volume to 5,700 ML. This will be stored until mid-March and then released, filling the reach between both weirs to capacity. Council has requested bathymetry tests of the river bed to accurately gauge where water can be accessed as levels recede. Council will also explore options to access dead storage water behind the Boggabilla Weir.

Council has now also called for expressions of interest to construct an artesian bore at the George Street Water Treatment Plant to access its water allocation from the Gubbermunda aquifer. Construction will begin as soon as contractors become available. Once accessed, this water is believed to be of a reasonable quality and should be able to be easily added to the regular treatment process.

Council also has an allocation from the Hutton Sandstone artesian aquifer that is accessed via the bore on Boundary Road. This water is of a lesser quality but can be used as a blend with other supplies. However, there are also delivery constraints that make the use of this water less of a priority.

INGLEWOOD

SunWater has advised Council that the last irrigation release from Coolmunda Dam has occurred, leaving 1,300 ML of high priority water in storage in Coolmunda exclusively for urban supply. SunWater has also confirmed that bathymetry tests of Coolmunda dam will be completed within a couple of weeks, which will inform future plans for water security.

The DNRME has also granted approval for Council to commence test sites for a bore in Inglewood and it is anticipated that those test sites will be completed in the new year. Inglewood is not known for good bore supplies, but there is some evidence that there will be enough supply to supplement the urban requirements.

BUNGUNYA, TALWOOD AND TOOBEAH

Bungunya and Toobeah do not receive potable water, but Cr Scheu says Council is confident that it can juggle the shared river allocation of raw water from the Yarrilwanna Creek. This may mean trucking water to Bungunya in the short term, as supplies are getting very low.

Council is investigating a possible additional bore supply to Bungunya on a shared private arrangement.

Cr Scheu has also confirmed plans to upgrade the bore supply to Toobeah in the new year.

Talwood’s supply is from the Weir River and via a shared bore arrangement with a private landholder. That supply, while not guaranteed forever, appears to be sufficient in the short term. However, the GHD report will include options for upgrades for Talwood as well. 

The GHD report will also investigate and cost more significant long-term measures, such as pipelines from Glenlyon Dam, Coolmunda Dam and the Boggabilla Weir to the pump sites along the Dumaresq and Macintyre River and Brook. It will also look at the upgrade and raising of the Goondiwindi Weir, and also the construction of weirs in other centres.

Nation-building projects like the David Coffey Scheme will also be listed for consideration. Council has requested a meeting with Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud to push the case for this, to achieve a better supply into the river system to provide urban, environmental and economic benefits to all centres on the Murray-Darling River system.

However, a project like the Coffey Scheme is a long way off and Cr Scheu says the region also needs to pursue more immediate actions.

“It was extremely gratifying to hear the words of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk - that her government will not see any town without drinking water. But by the same token, we all need to do our bit in conserving water wherever possible.

“Residents can be assured we are doing everything possible to address this abnormal situation and we ask that every resident do their best to assist. The message is that no town will be left dry and Council is progressing with all levels government to ensure supply and minimise cost to ratepayers.”

For more information, please contact:

Councillor Graeme Scheu
Mayor
Goondiwindi Regional Council
Mobile: 0427 718 877
Email: mayor@grc.qld.gov.au

Published: 16th December 2019