THE Toowoomba to Warwick water pipeline project is a step closer after the Palaszczuk government’s announcement today of a $20 million package for longterm water security in the Southern Downs.

The package includes $8 million for preparatory works for the pipeline, $4.6 million in upgrades to groundwater infrastructure connecting the town of Allora and $4.5 million to increase Leslie Dam’s usable water storage capacity by 1,700 megalitres.

“In late 2019, in response to low supplies in the region’s dams, my government committed to plan for a new pipeline from Toowoomba to Warwick,” the Premier said.

“This commitment was in addition to $15 million in emergency assistance provided to cart water into Stanthorpe.

“It’s great news that water carting is no longer needed with Storm King Dam now at 100 per cent capacity, but our commitment to provide water security to the wider Southern Downs region still stands.”

Following the Palaszczuk government’s re-election in 2020 it was revealed during budget estimates that plans for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline had stalled at the feasibility study stage.

As well as foundational work for the pipeline, today’s announced “Southern Downs Drought Resilience Package” also includes $1.4 million to help the council move a range of industries from using urban water supplies to groundwater, and $700 000 to further investigate local groundwater supplies for Warwick, Allora and Stanthorpe.

“This will provide ongoing emergency relief to this community, as well as form the basis for long-term water security,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“The package provides immediate funding to unlock new water sources, upgrade critical infrastructure and lay the groundwork for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline and also create jobs.”

The Caller last week reported on irrigators in the upper Condamine River catchment pumping water for the first time since 2017, after years of drought culminated with falls of more than 100mm across the Southern Downs.

The Premier made the announcement at Warwick today alongside water minister Glen Butcher (pictured below), who said the “immediate” measures announced today could provide the Southern Downs with an additional 13 months of water.

He said the government was “absolutely committed” to building the pipeline, which would create more than 700 jobs during construction.

“Back in December 2019, Stanthorpe’s Storm King Dam was close to running dry and Leslie Dam was expected to run dry. Nearby, Connolly Dam was being depleted quickly with water being carted from the dam to supply Stanthorpe,” Mr Butcher said.

“Since then, we’ve been working closely with Southern Downs and Toowoomba Regional Councils to get those regions the relief they need.

“We’ve heard first-hand from people that the certainty provided by the carting kept people in jobs and in the region, so this work which includes laying the pipelines foundations, will provide even more certainty to the region.”

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