We have an obli­ga­tion

Stanthorpe Border Post - - NEWS YOUR SAY - — Amanda Har­rold

TO all lev­els of gov­ern­ment, please hear our plea – we are ask­ing for a hand up and not a hand­out. The South­ern Downs has moved into high wa­ter re­stric­tions and has over one year of wa­ter left. We are con­cerned for our wa­ter se­cu­rity in the short term, but also in the long term – as the drought con­di­tions worsen and the pop­u­la­tion grows we are fac­ing a wa­ter cri­sis.

This is not the first time Stan­thorpe has faced the pos­si­bil­ity of run­ning out of wa­ter. In the last drought, the town had two weeks of wa­ter left and was on the verge of buy­ing in wa­ter at a huge ex­pense to ratepay­ers. Luck was on our side and it rained and filled Storm King Dam.

We can­not cross our fin­gers and hope this hap­pens again, we need to have a strat­egy in place to se­cure our wa­ter, not just for the town but the farm­ers. Agri­cul­ture is the ma­jor em­ploy­ment in the re­gion and is his­tor­i­cally vul­ner­a­ble to drought. Iden­ti­fy­ing strate­gies to meet ur­ban and ir­ri­gation needs is crit­i­cal to our eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity and live­abil­ity.

Our coun­cil has stated that it aims to de­velop a strat­egy to en­sure a se­cure ur­ban wa­ter sup­ply is pro­vided for Stan­thorpe and other parts of the re­gion.

One strat­egy is a pipe­line from Con­nelly Dam to Storm King Dam. At present Con­nelly has 14 months of wa­ter and Storm King has 13 months. The cost of build­ing a pipe­line from Con­nelly to Storm King Dam, which will be over 40km long through pri­vate land and gran­ite rock, will be in the vicin­ity of $25 mil­lion, not to men­tion the enor­mous cost of the en­ergy to pump the wa­ter up­hill. The cost for this op­tion will be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of coun­cil and ratepay­ers.

There is an al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tion in Emu Swamp Dam.

The Stan­thorpe and Gran­ite Belt Cham­ber of Com­merce gal­lantly took over this project and is com­plet­ing the de­tailed busi­ness case af­ter coun­cil de­clared it was not fi­nan­cially vi­able. The cham­ber has man­aged to turn this dam into a vi­able project and it is now solely an ir­ri­gation project. How­ever, there is the po­ten­tial to be able to sup­ply 450ML of emer­gency ur­ban wa­ter at no cap­i­tal cost to ratepay­ers.

This project is at risk due to is­sues in­clud­ing the trans­fer of the en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­provals which coun­cil has put out to ten­der to re­coup costs in­curred of $1.5 mil­lion. This has out­raged the com­mu­nity as the money ex­pended to­wards this project was sourced via grant money, ratepay­ers’ money and pri­vate money con­trib­uted by the Stan­thorpe Com­mu­nity Ref­er­ence Panel.

The Gran­ite Belt com­mu­nity does not shy away from a chal­lenge but ac­cepts it and con­trib­utes to­wards mak­ing things hap­pen. The com­mu­nity has a long his­tory of rais­ing money for much­needed in­fra­struc­ture and has al­ways had a will­ing­ness to work with all lev­els of gov­ern­ment for the bet­ter­ment of the town.

So to our lead­ers – hear our plea for a hand up and not a hand­out. All lev­els of gov­ern­ment and the com­mu­nity can all work to­gether to de­liver this life-chang­ing project if com­mon sense, de­cency and hon­our come to the fore. All par­ties need to come to the ta­ble and make this project hap­pen be­cause we can no longer ig­nore this wa­ter cri­sis, the time to act is NOW.

Amanda Har­rold.

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