Is Surf Lakes’ gravy train reaching the end of the line?
Tens of thousands of dollars in savings for Surf Lakes are up in the air as a re-assessment of a water agreement between Livingstone Shire Council and the company will begin in the coming weeks.
From 2017 to September 2019 water concessions saw the wave pool technology company pay LSC just $1.30 per Kl for water at the request of the company which claimed it “could bring substantial future economic activity and benefit to the region”.
As of September, the company has paid the commercial rate of $2.03 per Kl.
However the initial fill of the Surf Lakes testing facility came to 78.522Ml in 2017, over nine times the average daily water consumption for the entire shire (8.678Ml), at a cost of $102,078.60 with a discount of $54,180.18 and some refills since were done under the $1.30 rate.
In April 2019, LSC officers recommended the concessions for Surf Lakes be abandoned but the recommendation was not taken on board by the council, under former Mayor Bill Ludwig.
“It would appear the reasons relied upon by Council to support the initial request are no longer relevant, or at least significantly diminished,” the April 2019 LSC council report read.
“They are going to keep it as a prototype, they are going to bring people here and there is still the opportunity for that prototype to be developed in its own right,” Mr Ludwig said regarding the decision to maintain the concessions.
Surf Lakes has repeatedly stated it has no plans to commercialise the site, but the research and development facility has been integral in technology licence deals for the company in the Gold Coast and Los Angeles.
However, the unlikelihood of the facility ever opening to Capricorn Coast surfers has made the project a point of community contention.
The newly formed council with new Mayor Andy Ireland confirmed the newly formed council will re-assess the agreement later this year.
“The temporary agreement with Surf Lakes is set to expire on the 28th May 2020,” Cr Ireland said.
“The current activity on the Surf Lakes site is a matter for Surf Lakes and Council has no involvement.
“The current water consumption charge will be reviewed as per the 2020/2021 Budget development process.”
Surf Lakes were also not subject to infrastructure charges or planning approvals as it was a prototype facility.