Southern Downs Regional Council's director of infrastructure Seren McKenzie surveys the work on new state government-funded water tanks, which will hold emergency water.
Southern Downs Regional Council's director of infrastructure Seren McKenzie surveys the work on new state government-funded water tanks, which will hold emergency water.

Emergency water construction on track as drought lingers

NEW emergency water infrastructure could be up and running by the end of the month as Stanthorpe’s water crisis deepens.

Two new tanks being constructed at Storm King Dam, with a capacity to hold one megalitre each, are on track to be finished in coming weeks.

Southern Downs Regional Council’s director of infrastructure Seren McKenzie said council retained a commitment from the Queensland State Government to cart water to the tanks when, and if, the dam runs dry.

“The pipework has been completed and these tanks will be completed by about November 20,” Ms McKenzie said.

“Then council will do trials of the system – getting water over here and making sure everything is working and then we’ll be good to go when we need to.

“We are still in discussions with the state government. We met with them again yesterday.

“Obviously they’ve fully funded this project, the $2.4 million for the infrastructure, as well as $800,000 a month to cart the water when we need to.

“They’re fully on board with what council are doing and are supporting us.”

A Southern Downs Regional Council employee surveys Storm King Dam, where water levels have fallen to about 15 per cent.
A Southern Downs Regional Council employee surveys Storm King Dam, where water levels have fallen to about 15 per cent.

Stanthorpe residents currently use 1.3 million litres per day from Storm King Dam.

Ms McKenzie could give no definitive date for when water carting might begin, suggesting it was down to the quality of the dam’s water.

“We’ll use the dam water for as long as we can to reduce that cost of carting,” she said.

“Once that quality becomes untreatable we’ll move to carting straight away.

“We can mix the water. If we get to a point where the dam water starts to go a little bit bad we can mix water that we cart in so we don’t have to do full carting all at once.”

With the dam capacity now down to about 15 per cent, it could be a month or two before carting begins.

Or “it could be any day,” Ms McKenzie said.

“If the quality remains we’ve got one to two months left but it’s really a day-to-day thing of checking the water and seeing how it goes through the water treatment plant.”

Storm King Dam has dropped to about 15 per cent capacity.
Storm King Dam has dropped to about 15 per cent capacity.

The state government has promised it will support the region until 2021, with monthly water carting, or until the drought breaks.

“If we’re still in drought then and can’t use Storm King, they’ll have another look at it with us and review that situation,” Ms McKenzie said.

Water will be extracted from Connolly Dam, near Warwick, when carting begins.

Ms McKenzie urged residents to stick by the current daily water restrictions, with usage rising in recent weeks.

“The average was about 118 litres per person per day but that has crept back up to around 130 litres the past month,” she said.

“Stand pipe use has dropped quite a bit though. We’ve seen about an 18 per cent reduction so that all helps keeping water in the dam.”

She believes the drop is owed to the assistance from Granite Belt Water Relief and Granite Belt Drought Assist.

“We’ll continue with the town/urban supply. But those guys are doing a great job for our rural communities,” she said.



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