‘Like winning lotto’ as drought-hit dam fills

 

They're the four words the people of Stanthorpe have dreamt of hearing after years of drought, relying on trucks to deliver the towns water supply, the dams are full, and it's like the region has won the lotto.

A huge deluge restored hope for some of Queensland's largest vegetable and fruit producers, with Warwick and Stanthorpe copping 130mm of rain over Monday and Tuesday.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi celebrates the Storm King Dam hitting full capacity. Picture: Supplied
Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi celebrates the Storm King Dam hitting full capacity. Picture: Supplied


The Southern Downs Council Mayor, Vic Pennisi, said he hasn't seen anything like it in 20 years.

"It's been exciting times, what can I say, it's a bit like when you're a kid waiting for that push bike for Christmas and you can't wait for Christmas to come and when it finally does come it's like winning the lotto," Mr Pennisi said.

"Our prayers have been answered and thank god it rained because it was getting very, very hard to keep being positive."


Trucks funded by the State Government delivered water to Stanthorpe's Storm King Dam to keep the town running since January last year.

The Storm King Dam is now at 100 per cent capacity increasing by 78.8 per cent over the last week.

"You'd start to get those negative thoughts … but the tapestry that has been woven together over many generations by threads made up of different cotton binds us together," he said.

"So when the chips are down we lean on one another and we welcome people leaning on us and that's what keeps us going so now we will celebrate together, it is time to have a wine.

The Conolly Dam, 15km south of Warwick is also at 100 per cent with a 27.6 per cent increase and the Leslie Dam, which when at 15 per cent full can supply urban water for the whole community, jumped from 11 per cent on the 23rd of March, to 27 per cent yesterday.


The full dams bring certainty for a region that's gone without it for years, with farmers like Ray Taylor from Taylor Family Produce in Ameins, just west of Stanthorpe, now able to plan ahead for future crops.

"The creek didn't run for 55 months, that's unheard of, you might get 12 months here or there but never that long, never," Mr Taylor said.

"It is just fantastic for the district, just absolutely, I was talking to a few people on the street today and they're all saying that there is a bit of positivity now, a bit of certainty," Mr Taylor said.

The Storm King dam was only 22 per cent full before the last week of rain. Picture: Lachie Millard
The Storm King dam was only 22 per cent full before the last week of rain. Picture: Lachie Millard


The region supplies 95 per cent of Queensland's apples and a farmers like Mr Taylor was once Woolworths biggest Silverbeet supplier, but due to the drought had to shut down three farms.

"I've got three farms I did not farm for two years because of no water, I just shut them down and let them sit baron, so we'll be able to put them back into production now," he said.

"We can move our businesses forward."

BRISBANE Queensland


Originally published as Before and after: 'Like winning lotto' as drought-hit dam fills



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