DAM IS­SUE ES­CA­LATES

Water lev­els free fall at alarm­ing rate

Stanthorpe Border Post - - FRONT PAGE - Liana Walker [email protected]­der­post.com.au

Dam drops 20 per cent in two months

Storm King could dry up within the year

STORM KING Dam will run dry in 12 months if Stanthorpe does not re­ceive sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall.

The dam’s water level is at 56 per cent ca­pac­ity or 1230.2ML, with no rain­fall fore­cast in the com­ing week, and less than av­er­age falls in the com­ing months.

South­ern Downs Mayor Tracy Do­bie said coun­cil was work­ing closely with the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment on con­tin­gency plans and so­lu­tions to con­tinue an ur­ban water sup­ply should the dam reach its dead stor­age lev­els.

“The South­ern Downs and Gran­ite Belt have suf­fered from se­vere droughts in the past, and his­tor­i­cally Storm King Dam has filled very quickly when the dam’s catch­ment area re­ceives good rain,” she said.

“I would also like to stress that the 12-month pre­dic­tion is based on re­ceiv­ing no de­cent rain­fall, cur­rent evap­o­ra­tion lev­els and com­pli­ance with cur­rent water re­stric­tions.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we can’t make it rain, so we all need to be aware of how much water we are us­ing and how we are con­serv­ing water.”

Since No­vem­ber 1, 2018, the Gran­ite Belt has been un­der high level water re­stric­tions with a daily con­sump­tion tar­get of 170L per per­son.

At the time, Storm King Dam was at 70 per cent ca­pac­ity.

A SDRC spokesper­son said res­i­dents were not meet­ing their con­sump­tion tar­get.

“Coun­cil has sent let­ters to spe­cific res­i­dents ad­vis­ing them when they have used water out­side of the per­mit­ted uses un­der cur­rent water re­stric­tions,” they said.

Mayor Do­bie said coun­cil was not look­ing at ex­treme level re­stric­tions which would re­duce the daily tar­get to 140L per per­son and ban use of hand-held hoses.

“SDRC is cur­rently fo­cused on ed­u­cat­ing the com­mu­nity about how to con­serve water rather than en­forc­ing high level water re­stric­tions with fines,” she said.

“How­ever, if and when the re­gion needs to move to ex­treme water re­stric­tions, coun­cil may then be re­quired to re­view its com­pli­ance strat­egy.”

SDRC uses a De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Mines and En­ergy model to pre­dict dam water lev­els on a monthly ba­sis, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion rates of evap­o­ra­tion, water seep­ing into the soil and no in­flow of rain or water di­vert­ing into the dam.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy, there is a very high chance at least 150mm will fall in the re­gion be­tween Jan­uary and

March, but the me­dian rain­fall of 291mm is un­likely.

SDRC’s model does not take BoM’s pre­dicted rain­fall into con­sid­er­a­tion when cal­cu­lat­ing the dam’s lev­els.

SDRC will host Q&A ses­sions in the near fu­ture around water se­cu­rity.

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