By Jeremy Sollars
The Queensland Government says it is “continuing to support drought-stricken border communities, with $4.2 million allocated to the Goondiwindi region’s future water security and growth”.
In a statement this week Queensland Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said “following some of the driest years on record, the Government and Goondiwindi Regional Council were committed to providing ongoing water security for the Goondiwindi region”.
“Queensland has an economic strategy for recovery that includes $50 billion worth of infrastructure,” Dr Lynham said.
“For the nearly 11,000 Queenslanders who live in the Goondiwindi region, these measures will mean security for drinking water.
“Like any infrastructure investment we make, we will be seeking the best possible opportunities for investment and employment for locals.
“The Queensland Government will contribute $4.2 million and work with Goondiwindi Regional Council to implement its water security plan by mid-2021.
“The funding will reimburse Goondiwindi Regional Council for a number of projects already undertaken, including the establishment of new bores at Texas and Yelarbon, the initial installation of two new Great Artesian Basin bores in Goondiwindi, desilting the Yarrilwanna waterhole at Bungunya, and improvements to infrastructure at the water treatment facility at Yelarbon.
“The State Government funding will also support upcoming works in the region, including improvements to infrastructure at the water treatment facilities in Inglewood and Goondiwindi, an additional pump and storage facilities for the Toobeah community, and the connection of the two newly-installed bores in Goondiwindi.
“The Glenlyon and Coolmunda dams that supply multiple Darling Downs communities and industries are currently 14 and 28 percent, respectively.
“Without rain, some of those communities had as little as six months’ water supply available in storage.”
Goondiwindi Mayor Lawrence Springborg said the council “has been working closely with Sunwater and the Queensland and New South Wales governments to identify water security solutions for the region and ensure supply for the Goondiwindi region during droughts”.
“Goondiwindi Regional Council is committed to the short and long-term water security of communities across the Goondiwindi region,” Cr Springborg said this week.
“Council has devoted significant resources towards ensuring that the essential infrastructure is in place to meet that aim, and I have to thank the Queensland Government for their partnership and financial support as we’ve put this plan in place to secure the region’s water supply.
“The Goondiwindi region has been drought-declared since 2014 – our community is still facing the ongoing drought and water restrictions remain in place within our region.
“Our residents continue to do their bit to conserve water to maximise the supply we have available.”
Dr Lynham said the latest measures followed previous water security support for Goondiwindi Regional Council last year.
“We have been working closely with Goondiwindi Council for some time to drought-proof the Goondiwindi region,” Dr Lynham said.
“In 2019, we facilitated water releases from Glenlyon Dam to ensure there was more water to go around for both the community and its businesses,” he said.
“The Queensland Government will continue to invest across the state to ensure that no town will go without drinking water.”
MORE TO COME – MAYBE?
With a State election due on Saturday 31 October Dr Lynham’s announcement this week suggests there could be more water initiatives announced for regional communities in the coming weeks.
One of those could be the proposed water pipeline from Toowoomba to Warwick, which would allow the Southern Downs and Granite Belt regions to access emergency town water supplies from Wivenhoe Dam in Brisbane, which is connected to Toowoomba via an existing pipeline over the range.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced in January of this year her government would seek to fast-track the project, pending the outcome of a $1 million feasibility study announced in November 2019.
But to date the Premier has made no further announcements about the project and her office and that of Dr Lynham have said work on the feasibility study is continuing.
The Free Times understands however that a draft of the study has been completed and is with the Southern Downs Regional Council, but the council likewise has made no public statements in recent weeks about the pipeline project, other than to say it will conduct a “review” of the study.
Mayor Vic Pennisi has expressed qualified support for the pipeline but has made it clear the council wants to see the full details including costings, and what proportion of the cost of the project would be passed on to ratepayers if the State Government requires a council contribution.