Mirani MP labels Mt Morgan water plan a ‘Band-Aid’ solution
Member for Mirani Stephen Andrew has blasted Federal and State Governments for not acting sooner to “shore up” water security for many small towns in the electorate.
He also labelled Rockhampton Regional Council’s plan of getting water tankers from Gracemere to Mount Morgan as a “Band-Aid” solution for the problem.
Mr Andrew said he was present at the roundtable meeting on Wednesday, when Rockhampton region Mayor Tony Williams advised Mount Morgan was running out of water.
Mr Andrew said without substantial rainfalls, residents had been told the dam could be empty by as early as June 2021.
He said the situation was now dire and the town’s residents urgently needed a blueprint for building a pipeline to provide them with better water security for the next two decades.
“Trucking water up and down that road will be hugely expensive and put motorists at risk with extra, 1,400 B-double trucks put on the road each month,” he said.
He said he would be speaking to the Queensland’s Water Minister next week, and recommending a pipeline be constructed either from Barrage Dam in Rockhampton or nearby Stanwell Dam, which he believed was currently at or near full capacity.
“That pipeline is absolutely essential to secure emergency water supplies to the town in the event the water runs out,” he said.
Mayor Tony Williams said last week council was considering a “whole suite of options with different price tags” to provide a long-term answer, such as a new dam at Nine Mile Creek or Fletchers Creek, a desalination plant, a hydro scheme, or a pipeline from Gracemere to Mount Morgan.
Mount Morgan residents would be consulted on those projects, he said.
“I want to be really clear on this: we will not leave Mount Morgan residents without access to water,” Cr Williams said Wednesdat.
“We do need to have a modern solution for what’s available for a community of that size.
“Because we’ve got a low socio-economic community with Mount Morgan, it’s very important that we don’t outprice the water for the supply to them.”
Mr Andrew said there were a number of other towns to the west of the electorate that were facing similar water supply issues and would be in the same position as Mount Morgan if action wasn’t taken soon by government.
“A pipeline servicing these towns and communities is well past its due date,” he said.
“The fact is, Queensland’s population and water needs have more than doubled in the last two decades, while much of the state’s stored water has been either sold off or released back into the ‘environment’.
“The Stanwell Dam is less than 30km away, full of water and after that, there’s Barrage Dam where the people of Rockhampton only ever use about half of the water entitlements available to them.
“Things have now reached the point where the well-being and livelihoods of people in Mount Morgan and other towns to the west of Rockhampton, are being put at an unacceptable risk.”
The One Nation MP also chaired a meeting last week of Alton Downs-Ridgelands residents who were concerned and frustrated by the inadequate supply of water to the region.
Acting on Mr Andrew’s suggestion, the group passed a resolution at the meeting, agreeing to set up a Community Association, which members hoped would enable them to work with state and local governments to resolve their water supply issues better.
At the meeting, landholders said the area was rich in good farming, fattening and backgrounding land but it was all useless without reliable water supply to the region.
After the meeting, Mr Andrew said water was identified by the community as the single defining factor holding back growth and increased productivity.
“There is so much potential for growth and productivity in the area and it is all being hampered by lack of water,” he said.
“Local graziers have assessed their business plans and found access to reliable water could more than triple their productive capacity and benefit the whole region.
“The lack of water acts as a de facto cap on productivity.
“It is limiting growth and risks destroying businesses, jobs and communities.”
He said the area had an ongoing problem with the “under-utilisation of water entitlements”.
“There are large tracts of land held along the river, where water allocations are not being used by their owners, and this issue needs to be urgently addressed by government,” he said.
Once set up, the association said it wanted to work with various authorities to improve water supplies to the area.