Flashback to 2007 with Ann Kirk standing at the proposed Rookwood weir site.
Flashback to 2007 with Ann Kirk standing at the proposed Rookwood weir site. Contributed

Mayor: Rookwood has never been about Rocky water supply

Time to set record straight about weir

ROOKWOOD Weir has been a long-running project which Rockhampton Regional Council has advocated for and supported since the very beginning.

The release of the business case appears to have muddied the waters in some people's minds so it's important the record is set straight.

Rookwood Weir has never been about supplying town water in Rockhampton.

For that we use the Barrage (thank you Rex Pilbeam), and we only use half of our allocation as it is.

An allocation is a title deed to draw a certain amount of water from a particular river or dam every year.

The question being asked is, 'Does Rockhampton need to buy an additional allocation from Rookwood Weir to ensure we don't run out of water?'

The answer is no - we need Rookwood Weir to increase our water security but it does not need to come at a cost to the ratepayers.

Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow.
Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow. Allan Reinikka ROK171117astrelow

The water security report which says 'we might run out of water at some point maybe' is a generic comment which could have been said at any point in time - there is no greater risk now than there has always been.

The report also assumes several things happening at the same time.

The first is that we will have two consecutive dry seasons.

The second is that in the midst of that, the council does not implement any kind of water restrictions - which we obviously would as the Barrage water level drops.

The third, and most important, is that it assumes that during this time, Livingstone Shire will continue to take water from the Barrage instead of drawing on its new allocation from Rookwood Weir (which is already set).

Livingstone is our single biggest customer and draws about one-sixth of the supply from the Barrage. Having that one-sixth back improves our own water reliability.

At the same time, the report also assumes the council has not taken steps to increase reliability of our existing storage, which is incorrect.

We have already embarked upon projects to confirm the feasibility of augmenting the Fitzroy River Barrage storage by raising the height of the Barrage gates by about 40cm to increase full storage levels, and by developing a means to lower the intake point behind the Barrage (which gives us access to a pond of water that could otherwise not be reached) for emergency-related contingent supply.

Buying an additional water 'allocation' in Rookwood would commit our community to a 'forever after' annual bill to help pay for the operation and maintenance of Rookwood Weir.

There is no justification for us to buy something we don't need.

We support Rookwood, though, for all of the reasons in the original report - that is for Gladstone and Livingstone and for agriculture opportunities for all of us.

It should be pointed out though that most of the best agricultural sites that could be serviced by the new weir are actually in Livingstone Shire.

That said, the building of Rookwood Weir could help to ensure the reliability of our existing water allocation (through Livingstone's share of barrage water coming back to us).

We need to discuss how this might work with the State Government and we are eager to have that conversation as soon as possible.

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