By Jeremy Sollars
The Southern Downs Regional Council appears to be moving towards crisis mode over water as community concern over the region’s water supplies mounts.
The Free Times understands the council may be looking at emergency-level measures particularly in relation to Stanthorpe’s town water supplies with suggestions bulk water may be sourced from dams outside the council region, possibly to be brought in by rail.
Senior council officers met with commercial water carters from around the region at the Warwick council offices yesterday, Wednesday 6 March, where the carters were told that rural residents buying in water must adhere to the same water restrictions that apply to town residents and that they are forbidden from using any water they buy in for livestock.
It is understood water carters at yesterday’s meeting were encouraged to report any non-household water use by rural residents to the council and those residents could face significant fines.
It was initially understood that the water carters had been called in to be told the council would no longer sell them water to on-sell to customers, but the council has denied this.
But water to carters may be restricted to food-licenced carters only, meaning any other operator with a key deposit for a council standpipe may be blocked from accessing public water.
It has also been suggested the council is investigating underground water sources across the region including bores on council and other public land.
In a statement released to the Free Times yesterday a council spokeswoman said the council plans to hold a general media conference next Wednesday 13 March at which it will deliver “important community information about the region’s water security”.
“The council has a number of contracts for the sale of water with a range of stakeholders such as community groups, commercial water carters and businesses,” the spokeswoman said.
“Council is commencing discussion with all of these stakeholders in the coming weeks about how best to use our water efficiently in light of restrictions currently in place.
“Additionally, Council will be holding a press conference on Wednesday, 13 March at 12 noon for all radio, print and television media outlets to be able to share up to date, important community information about the region’s water security with all residents.”
The council issued a separate statement earlier this week saying enforcement of water restrictions would be ramped up and residents and businesses could be hit with fines of $391 and $1958 respectively for breaches.
That statement also said the council is finalising plans to move to ‘extreme’ water restrictions “in the coming weeks should there be no rain”.
The region is currently on ‘high’ level restrictions. For details visit the council’s website at www.sdrc.qld.gov.au
According to the Bureau of Meteorology as of today, Thursday 7 March, Warwick’s Leslie Dam is at 5.5% of capacity with 5686ML in storage.
The council says as of today Warwick’s Connolly Dam is at 45.8% of capacity with 1187ML in storage, while Storm King Dam at Stanthorpe is 42% full with 917ML in storage.