By Jeremy Sollars
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the State Government will allocate “enough funding for infrastructure and the ongoing cost of carting water” for Stanthorpe residents “until 2021”.
Ms Palaszczuk visited Stanthorpe today – Friday 13 September – as part of a whirlwind tour of communities affected by Queensland’s bushfires last weekend and during this week.
The Premier has been widely criticised for heading overseas – including visiting Switzerland to meet with IOC officials to discuss a Queensland bid to host the 2032 Olympic Games – as the bushfire crisis unfolded.
Today’s announcement by Ms Palaszczuk follows a media briefing held on Wednesday of this week by Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie and senior council managers, where it was revealed carting of emergency town water for Stanthorpe will cost $800,000 a month.
The council forecasts that existing water supplies from Stanthorpe’s Storm King Dam will be exhausted by January next year at the latest.
“Around 34 truckloads of water per day will be carted from Connolly Dam to Storm King Dam, while it’s needed,” the Premier said today.
“If the drought lifts and the wet season delivers enough water, then the carting will no longer be needed.
“With bushfires following the prolonged drought, Stanthorpe will not be left to battle through this alone.”
Ms Palaszczuk did not set an upper limit on the State Government’s financial contribution towards emergency water for Stanthorpe.
The council has been lobbying hard behind closed doors in recent weeks for the State Government to bear the cost of supplying water to Stanthorpe, with Cr Dobie telling the media on Wednesday ours is “not a wealthy council”.
The council has awarded contracts to 24 private water carting operators to cart water from Warwick’s Connolly Dam to Storm King Dam when Storm King’s supply runs out.
Mayor Dobie said on Wednesday the road operation will require between 40 and 50 individual truck movements per day – differing from the figure stated today by the Premier – with loads ranging from between 23,000 and 33,000 litres per truck depending on capacity.
An estimated 1.6 megalitres (ML) will be required to supply Stanthorpe with town water each day.
The monthly cost of $800,000 will be in addition to $1.7 million being spent on new water infrastructure at Storm King Dam to enable storage of the carted water and its transfer via pipeline to the Stanthorpe water treatment plant.
The new infrastructure – being installed now by Toowoomba firm Newlands Civil Construction – consists of two one-megalitre holding tanks and a new 1.5km section of 280mm poly pipeline to take the water from the tanks to the Storm King Dam-treatment plant pipeline.
The new infrastructure is expected to be in place by the end of November.
Councillors at a special meeting held in Warwick on Monday of this week voted in a confidential session to award the carting contracts, with Cr Dobie confirming at Wednesday’s media briefing that some of the businesses to benefit are based outside of the Southern Downs Regional Council area.
To see a list of the companies awarded contracts to cart emergency water to Stanthorpe via road tanker click this story link –