By CAITLIN CROWELY
THE STATE Government has confirmed it has funding on the table for water treatment facilities along the proposed Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline, but the final details are yet to be locked in.
Water Minister Glenn Butcher has given the strongest indication yet that the Palaszczuk Government would be paying for water treatment plants at Nobby, Clifton and Greenmount, telling the Caller they were “among the communities set to benefit from greatly improved water security.”
It’s a critical aspect of the deal with Toowoomba Regional Council, which councillors wanted clarification on after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the $300 million project would be pushing ahead back in June.
That announcement raised eyebrows after the Caller confirmed Toowoomba Regional Council wasn’t aware it was coming, despite repeated calls from local leaders for more consultation around the project.
The frayed relationship between the Council and the State Government now appears to be on the mend, with Mayor Paul Antonio and Water Minister Glenn Butcher all smiles during a recent meeting (pictured below).
“I’ve deliberately built a very strong relationship with Glenn Butcher because there are some elements within this Council that have been giving him a fair bit of trouble,” Paul Antonio exclusively told the Caller.
“I’ve made sure that there was clearly an open pathway to me, to talk to me and for me to talk to him.”
The Mayor revealed he was at a community meeting during the 2019 Crows Nest bushfires when he received a call from then minister Anthony Lynham, letting him know a press release had gone out about the plan to direct water from Toowoomba to Warwick.
“I would have thought that even prior to that there should have been some consultation,” Antonio said.
However the Mayor said he was satisfied with the direction discussions were heading in.
“I’m pretty happy about some elements of what they’re proposing, if you look at the holistic thing,” he said.
“It’s about drought water, it’s not about irrigation water for farms and some of my colleagues have gone on about that, but that’s not the case. It’s about water for Warwick.”
The deal will also include the State Government paying for the upgrade of Wivenhoe pump station which is currently vulnerable to flooding. The pump station will be relocated to higher ground with increased capacity to meet demands and standby pumps also installed.
“What they haven’t thought about is the capacity of our pipelines and our ability to pump that water from Cressbrook and Perseverance to the top of the range,” Paul Antonio said.
“So that’s an issue I’ve put back to Minister Butcher – he thought he had all the problems solved but he hasn’t.”
Butcher said he regularly caught up with Mayor Antonio and that he was confident this project would go ahead and all parties would be satisfied.
“The construction of the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline will deliver approximately 420 local jobs, as well as long-term water security, which is critical to good jobs, economic growth and liveability in regional Queensland,” Butcher said.
“Seqwater has delivered detailed designs for the pipeline and will continue working with stakeholders in moving into the delivery phase of the pipeline. The current proposed completion date is mid-2026.”