Shaylah and Kaenan Harris with the banners designed by the Mount Morgan No.7 Gallery Art Squad, which provided free workshops for students and youth in Mount Morgan.
Shaylah and Kaenan Harris with the banners designed by the Mount Morgan No.7 Gallery Art Squad, which provided free workshops for students and youth in Mount Morgan.

#itstimeforapipeline: Mt Morgan residents rally for water

The slogan #itstimeforapipeline has been trending on social media and can be seen on posters around Mount Morgan as the community rallies together to fight for better water security.

The community, which has a population of 1,963 persons, has been subject to water restrictions since September 2019.

It was upgraded to level six restrictions earlier this month, the highest level used by Rockhampton Regional Council.

The Dee River catchment has received very little rain in the past couple of years, meaning the supply at No. 7 Dam has been decreasing.

The latest data indicates the dam storage level is at 9.5 per cent of the full capacity.

When full, the dam holds more than two years' of water supply.

The community suffered through bad conditions from 2003-04 and 2007-08 when the dam dropped to about three per cent.

Council undertook a trial in early March to truck water to the townships with 25,000 litres of drinking water trucked from Gracemere to Mount Morgan.

Three truckloads of water are now being taken to Mount Morgan's Water Treatment Plant.

There has also been concerns around water treatment as the water is drawn from the lows of the dam.

Council has been trucking new water to dilute the dam water and has added powdered activated carbon which helps get rid of the taste created by blue-green algae.

The community has been calling for years for more secure water infrastructure, with the most favoured option being a pipeline from Gracemere to Mount Morgan.

Founder of the Mount Morgan No. 7 Art Gallery Kirra Swain has been leading the #itstimeforapipeline movement.

Posters campaigning for more secure water services can be seen around Mount Morgan.
Posters campaigning for more secure water services can be seen around Mount Morgan.

The art gallery was successful in securing funding from the Gallery of Modern Art for protest art.

Brainstorming with the area's youth about topics to protest about, water security kept coming up time and time again.

The group has designed T-shirts and made banners.

"It is just about trying to empower the kids to be able to make change and what you have to do effect change," Kirra said.

"Hopefully we will have some empowered kids coming through the ranks."

Kirra's personal opinion on a solution to the issue is a pipeline put into the No. 7 Dam with untreated water.

"The dam is a lifeline for our tourists," she said.

"Yes we have our galleries and history, that does get a lot of the grey nomads, but for the weekend people, it's the dam that is the mainstay.

The dam offered 4X4, motorbiking, mountain bikes rides, swimming and kayaking, Kirra said.

Over the past few years thousands of fingerlings have been released into the dam and council has spent money on advertising the dam as a fishing destination.

"To see it down to a puddle, you know there is no way fish could survive," Kirra said.

The community was crying out for a permanent solution to keep the dam at least at 75 per cent, Kirra said.

She said in a perfect world it would be an under-utilised resource, it would only be used when needed and the dam would rely on rain.

"People are realising water is the new gold, it's imperative we keep our water in our smaller towns and regions," she said.

Not only is it necessary for agriculture but it has had a huge effect on residents' gardens.

"No one has had a veggie garden for the last 12 months to two years, thousands of dollars of peoples plants have died," Kirra said.

Mount Morgan residents have been repeatedly congratulated for their water wise efforts and lack of consumption but it has all had an effect.

"We don't go for tropical things that need a lot of water because we don't have the climate for it," Kirra said.

"Even hardy plants have been knocked around in the last 12 months.

"It affects the town in so many different ways."

Kirra has been living in Mount Morgan for 10 years now and a third of that time has been spent in water restrictions.

"We are paying for a service that is not being delivered," she said.

"We get out of the shower and still feel gritty, we are looking at new dishwashers and washing machines as they clog up because of the contaminated water.

"That's just an extra cost we have to wear."

 

Kirra said the community was happy to work with council, but residents did not feel they were being listened to.

"We are still left scratching our head with what is on the table," she said.

"We don't feel like we have gotten anywhere, their consultation, it's more for show is what it feels like, it needs to be proper consultation, they need to sit down and talk to people.

"Council needs to get on board and really consult on what we think is best for our town, we know what is best, we live there."

She said it was a perfect time to start a project as the government was looking to get people back into work and the Federal Government was offering infrastructure grants.

"We don't want to be a burden on Rockhampton Regional Council, we just want to get our dam up," Kirra said.

There was a community meeting scheduled for Monday night at Mount Morgan on the water issue which had 150 attendees registered, but council cancelled the meeting in light of the latest COVID-19 restrictions.

There was some upset that Rockynats, due to be held to over the Easter long weekend, hasn't been cancelled but the Mount Morgan meeting was.

Rockhampton Regional Council was contacted for comment in regards to the cancelled meeting and advised there were restrictions on gatherings with more than 30 people.

"I know many people are disappointed that the meeting in Mount Morgan had to be postponed, and I am too," Mayor Tony Williams said.

"The water supply in Mount Morgan is a very important issue, and a lot of time and effort had gone into organising and preparing for this meeting.

"We had the room all set up and had 200 masks on hand, but we started to get cancellations from individuals who said they didn't want to attend due to COVID concerns, and it's important to us that everyone who wants to attend a public meeting feels safe to do so.

"This, along with the developing situation in Brisbane and confirmation that an individual infected with the highly infectious UK strain of COVID-19 spent three days in Central Queensland last week, meant the meeting had to be postponed.

"We remain committed to working with the community to achieve long term water security for Mount Morgan and we will reschedule this meeting - as well as hold others if necessary - once it is safe to do so. In the meantime people can call us on 4932 9000 or check www.rrc.qld.gov.au/mountmorgan for all the latest information.

"The current health directives allow for Rockynats to go ahead as long as the COVID safe event plan, which has been approved by the Chief Health Officer, is followed. If the advice changes then so will our plans.

"The safety of our community is our highest priority and Rockhampton Regional Council will continue to follow all Queensland Health directives."



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