THE Palaszczuk Government’s plans to help provide Queensland’s Southern Downs residents with long term water security via a Toowoomba-Warwick pipeline have not progressed beyond a feasibility study, despite claims earlier this year that the project could be completed by Christmas.
Revelations that there had been no movement on the pipeline, which was projected to cost $90 million, came during budget estimates hearings held at Parliament House this week.
The state government has instead budgeted $3 million for a “regional water assessment” in the Southern Downs, and also allocated $15 million to continue carting water to supplement Stanthorpe’s reserves.
Speaking on behalf of absent water minister Glenn Butcher, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said rainfall in the Granite Belt in February had created “flexibility” on the project’s timeline, and that the government was therefor yet to make a decision on the project.
“The consideration has been provided to the government and it will make a decision,” Dr Miles said.
“The rainfall … in February that extended Warwick’s water supply to late 2022 obviously provided some flexibility in time frame there. That will be taken into account.”
An update on the proposal was requested by shadow water minister Deb Frecklington, who labelled the plans a “pipedream” announced amid “fanfare” in the region.
“There is no plan from the Palaszczuk government to actually build a pipeline,” Ms Frecklington said.
“It is just a feasibility study and it is obviously just a pipedream.”
In January this year, well before the Covid economic downturn, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuck visited Warwick to meet with the Southern Downs Regional Council and local stakeholders to discuss the proposal.
At the time, the region was experiencing crippling drought and Warwick’s Leslie Dam was below 4.6 percent capacity. The capacity was 11.62 at the time of publication.
After meeting with locals, Ms Palaszczuck reportedly said costings for the project would “feed directly into our budget“.
The following media statement was released the same day:
Seqwater CEO Neil Brennan told the estimates hearing that the feasibility study had been provided to the government in June.
“Seqwater was requested by the Queensland government to complete a feasibility study of options to improve town water supply security for Warwick and surrounding communities,” Mr Brennan said.
“Our preliminary report was submitted to government in January 2020. A feasibility report in June 2020 confirmed that a Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline remained the preferred solution.
“It is our understanding that the government is considering the reports.”