Big dollars for water search

Leslie Dam from the air in mid-April. Photo courtesy Kelvin Hutchinson.

By Jeremy Sollars

The Southern Downs Regional Council has received just under one million dollars from the Queensland Government in part to undertake investigations into sources of underground or bore water supplies across the region, as dam storage levels continue to drop.

The government says total funding of $946,998 has been granted to the council through the Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program “to audit and assess water and wastewater infrastructure and to investigate the possibility of new bores or rejuvenate existing bores”.

During a confidential session of their May meeting held in Warwick yesterday, Wednesday 22 May, Southern Downs councillors voted in favour of engaging engineering and environmental consultants GHD to undertake the bore water investigations.

Also awarded water-related contracts during the confidential session were drone operators Australian UAV and Water Loss and Pressure Management Pty Ltd.

Australian UAV will carry out aerial surveys of Connolly Dam in Warwick and Storm King Dam at Stanthorpe to help determine actual water levels, while Water Loss and Pressure Management Pty Ltd will investigate leakage of town water supplies from the supply network.

The council has previously conceded that up to 25 per cent of town water supplies in the region are lost in any given year through leaking pipework – both council-owned and private – and through faulty water meters and water theft.

Leslie Dam owner SunWater is carrying out its own surveys of the dam’s true level and is expected to provide its findings to the council in mid- to late June.

The above contracts were awarded under the ‘genuine emergency’ provisions of the Queensland Local Government Act, a further acknowledgement by the council that the region is facing a full-blown water crisis if no significant rainfall occurs soon, unlikely heading into the winter months.

As of today, Thursday 23 May, official dam levels according to the council’s website are as follows –

• Leslie Dam, Warwick – 6.75% full (7172ML)

• Connolly Dam, Warwick – 43.4% full (1124ML)

• Storm King Dam, Stanthorpe – 34% full (737ML)

The Leslie Dam figure is based on owner SunWater’s levels, which are inflated by around 2000 megalitres to include water below the ‘dead storage level’. As of today the Bureau of Meteorology has Leslie Dam at 4.9% of capacity with 5054ML in storage.

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