By Jeremy Sollars
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the Queensland Government will use its fast-tracking powers to build a new water pipeline from Toowoomba to Warwick, potentially by the end of this year.
The Premier visited Warwick today, Monday 20 January, to inspect part of the route the pipeline will take through Warwick to the council’s Glen Road water treatment plant.
The pipeline would allow Warwick and Stanthorpe to access water long-term from Wivenhoe Dam in Brisbane, which is connected to Toowoomba via an existing pipeline from Wivenhoe to Toowoomba’s Cressbrook Dam.
Late last year the Premier committed to funding a $1 million feasibility study into the pipeline.
Despite a report by Wivenhoe Dam operator Seqwater on the feasibility of the project not being due to the government until April of this year, the Premier today told the media the State Government would its powerful Coordinator-General’s authority to “get the project moving ASAP”.
This is also despite the project not yet being fully costed – and Toowoomba Regional Council voicing anger in late 2018 about not being consulted over the pipeline project.
Ms Palaszczuk today said “detailed costings” on the pipeline would be finalised as a priority and these would “feed into” the next State Budget, due in April this year, six weeks earlier than usual and with a State election due in October.
The Premier today unveiled the route the pipeline would take to Warwick, south from Toowoomba through Westbrook, Wyreema, Cambooya, Greenmount, Nobby, Clifton and Allora.
It would then travel through Warwick from north of town, eventually linking up to the Warwick water treatment plant on Glen Road west of town.
The specific details of the route through Warwick were not released today, but Premier Palaszczuk and Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said private property resumptions along the route would be “minimal” as it would “mostly” utilise existing public road reserves.
The Premier said she believes any affected landholders would be appropriately compensated.
The State Coordinator-General – Toni Power – is a senior officer of the Queensland Department of State Development and has extensive powers to override local governments and some state regulations to push through major infrastructure projects deemed vital by the government.
The Free Times has been told the Toowoomba-Warwick pipeline project could require an additional or upgraded pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam to Toowoomba but the Premier said today she was “not aware” of any such requirement at this time.
Dams levels up – but not Storm King…
Today’s announcement comes as the Southern Downs and Granite Belt received some good falls of rain in places from Friday and across the weekend.
Leslie Dam is now at 8% of capacity thanks to inflows over recent days, but Cr Dobie today said current water restrictions of 80 litres per person per day for town water users across the region will remain in place.
Carting of water from Connolly Dam in Warwick to Stanthorpe will continue indefinitely, with Stanthorpe’s Storm King Dam having only received minimal inflow over the weekend.
Cr Dobie told media today the Leslie Dam inflow would mean Warwick has an assured water supply until May 2021, while inflows into Connolly Dam mean Stanthorpe’s supply will be assured for the remainder of 2020.