We have an obligation
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.