Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - CHAR­LIE PEEL char­lie. peel@ news. com. au

TOWNSVILLE City Coun­cil will seek to pres­sure res­i­dents and busi­nesses into con­serv­ing wa­ter in an at­tempt to stave off up to $ 300 mil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture up­grades within the next decade.

And with the Paluma Dam at 54 per cent ca­pac­ity and Ross Dam at 43 per cent – the low­est in nearly a decade – tougher wa­ter re­stric­tions could be en­forced by the end of the year.

The city’s thirst for wa­ter has led to the de­vel­op­ment of a 10- year plan to cope with the in­creas­ing de­mand on ex­ist­ing wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture.

A key facet of the strat­egy is to change us­age habits and re­duce con­sump­tion, which is more than 200 per cent higher than that of other com­pa­ra­ble cities in Queens­land.

The coun­cil hopes re­duced de­mand through ed­u­ca­tion and wa­ter sav­ing ini­tia­tives will de­fer ex­pen­sive in­fra­struc­ture works and ex­tend the life of ex­ist­ing sys­tems. About $ 300 mil­lion is ex­pected to even­tu­ally be spent on in­fra­struc­ture ca­pac­ity up­grades, in­clud­ing a sec­ond pipeline to the Bur­dekin Dam and new wa­ter treat­ment plant in the city’s south.

Wa­ter and Waste Com­mit- tee chair­man Cr Ray Gartrell said sub­stan­tial ad­di­tional in­fra­struc­ture will need to come online as early as 2022 to meet in­creas­ing de­mand.

“While the coun­cil is pro­gress­ing with plans for the fu­ture up­grades, the de­mand strat­egy out­lines ways to en­gage in­dus­try and the com­mu­nity and get more out of our cur­rent fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices,” he said.

“The big ben­e­fit in man­ag­ing and us­ing our wa­ter re­serves bet­ter would be de­lay­ing the need for the up- grades and the big cost that brings for our com­mu­nity.”

Cr Gartrell said the coun­cil would con­tinue to lobby gov­ern­ments for fund­ing with the in­fra­struc­ture up­grades.

Mayor Jenny Hill said the coun­cil needed to care­fully con­sider the strat­egy at the full coun­cil meet­ing on July 28 and make sure it en­com­passed the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in the De­vel­op­ing North­ern Aus­tralia White Pa­per.

“If we are to open more ar­eas for agri­cul­ture and ir­ri­ga­tion, there needs to be a good hard look at fu­ture wa­ter re­quire­ments, par­tic­u­larly dams.”

Cr Hill said the coun­cil should make sure it was left with op­tions to ap­ply for a slice of the $ 200 mil­lion avail­able in the white pa­per ded­i­cated to plan­ning for new dams.

A re­port on wa­ter re­stric­tions is be­ing pre­pared and will likely rec­om­mend rais­ing the 10 per cent trig­ger for when the coun­cil would be­gin pump­ing wa­ter from Bur­dekin Dam.

Level 1 re­stric­tions are cur­rently in place.

Ray Gartrell.

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