The Southern Downs Regional Council last week expressed concern that “important information and facts released by the organisation regarding water use, water restrictions and water availability was being misconstrued in the community” and announced it will undertake “new initiatives to ensure clear and concise communication with residents and businesses”.
In a statement council chief executive officer David Keenan said with the Southern Downs region “in the grip of a serious drought, water storages are low and residents are concerned about the availability of water for residential, commercial, recreational, industrial and farming uses”.
Mr Keenan said the council had attempted to provide information to the community in a timely and an informative manner however is “concerned that some information was being misconstrued”.
“Council is concerned that the information it has communicated has not necessarily been successful as either the content of the media releases has not been understood, or the means by which the information has been communicated has not been supported by the community,” Mr Keenan said.
“It is important that Council revises how it communicates with residents during this water crisis.
“Local media and social media commentary is also confusing residents and businesses alike about the water situation.
“Discussion about the potential early implementation of emergency water restrictions and rumours about water being trucked into the region has caused angst and anxiety in the local community.
“This in turn is increasing pressure on people already impacted by the shortage of water and causing many people significant mental stress.”
“With this in mind, Council will undertake initiatives to ensure that clear and concise information is provided to the community about the water crisis through new channels.
“Firstly, the Southern Downs Regional Council website (www.sdrc.qld.gov.au) website should be the primary reference point for all questions relating to the water crisis.
“Every aspect related to the water crisis will be placed on a tab on the front page of the site.
“Updates will be provided on a regular basis to the website on key issues such as water restrictions, storage forecasts and water conservation tips, as well as frequently asked questions.
“Secondly, each Monday the Mayor will respond to important questions from the community that can be submitted either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the Council Facebook page.
“The Mayor will provide these responses via a video message on the website, Facebook page and YouTube.
“The video message will aim to be informative and provide answers to specific questions where possible.
“Finally, we will facilitate additional community information sessions or Questions and Answers forums in the coming months.
“These sessions and forums will have a focus on water and water conservation, as well allowing members of the community to ask about other Council related activities.
“It is important that information provided to the community is factual and not presented in a manner that creates fear or ambiguity.
“Southern Downs Regional Council acknowledges the exceptional work being undertaken by the residents and businesses of the Southern Downs to conserve water during the difficult drought crisis.”
• For more information visit www.sdrc.qld.gov.au or contact SDRC on 1300 697 372.