Devastating dry prompts Palaszczuk to make Warwick visit
CRITICAL water shortages facing the Southern Downs have prompted Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to visit the region this morning to see the devastating effects of drought firsthand.
Ms Palaszczuk met with Mayor Tracy Dobie at the council chambers in Warwick to acknowledge how badly the region was affected by drought.
The Premier said it was vital to meet face to face with Cr Dobie and residents to confront the water shortages threatening Stanthorpe's water supply.
"This drought has been going on for seven years, taking a huge toll on families and communities," Ms Palaszczuk said.
Cr Dobie was pleased the state acknowledged the effect of the relentless big dry and took the opportunity in this morning's meeting to discuss the impact lifting the Southern Downs' drought declaration in 2017 had on agriculturalists, funding for water carting and the possibility of extending emergency water rebates to horticulturists.
Cr Dobie said Ms Palaszczuk was waiting on a funding application currently being finalised by the council, which will request the emergency funding needed for carting and water allocations.
The council will ask the Queensland Government to fund the total cost of this carting, Cr Dobie said.
"The Queensland Government has certainly given a firm commitment to support our region," Cr Dobie said.
"The exact amount of money that the Queensland Government is prepared to provide will be decided once we put in our detailed funding application."
Following the meeting, Cr Dobie also revealed the council had this week approved the building of permanent water infrastructure at Storm King Dam to support water transport.
Cr Dobie said a pair of water tanks, with a one megalitre capacity each, would be built at Storm King Dam with a pipeline from the tanks to the Mount Marley Treatment Plant.
"The trucks will deliver the water to these tanks and it will be gravity fed into the treatment plant," Cr Dobie said.
"We think this is a great permanent solution if we need emergency water for Stanthorpe."
Cr Dobie said extending the emergency water infrastructure rebate scheme to horticulturists was also raised at the meeting with the Premier.
"If they lose their vines or their trees it's six to eight years before they can replant and get a productive crop out of those trees," Cr Dobie said.
"Being able to get support to provide emergency water infrastructure is very important."
After Ms Palaszczuk met with Cr Dobie, she headed to Storm King Dam to witness Stanthorpe's dwindling above-ground water supplies.
Queensland Government drought assistance funding:
To date, the State Government has contributed the following funding allocations to the Southern Downs Regional Council:
- $13.6 million towards Emu Swamp Dam
- $3.939 million replacing pipelines between Storm King Dam and Mount Marlay Water Treatment Plant
- $950,000 to the Southern Downs Regional Council to progress water security projects related to new and rejuvenated bores and fixing leaks in the reticulation system
- $600,000 in freight subsidies
- $300,000 in Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Assistance to 56 producers