Clarence River at Yates Crossing
Clarence River at Yates Crossing Graham Mackie

'The dam will run dry': Mayors explain push for dam

WHILE a dam on the headwaters of the Clarence River generates fierce opposition here, some towns are facing the very real prospect of running out of water.

As Southern Downs, Tenterfield, Toowoomba and Western Downs councils push to investigate the viability of receiving an allocation from the Clarence River, the Southern Downs mayor has said it is one of many strategies to ensure the long-term viability of the regions suffering extreme drought.

Cr Tracy Dobie acknowledged the worst affects of the drought would probably not be felt until next year, but already the Granite Belt was facing the reality of having water delivered.

"It's Stanthorpe which is due to run out of urban water come Christmas. We will truck the water in from Warwick, but the dam will run dry," she said.

"These dams were all built to provide three years of urban water without inflow and here we have got it, we have got three years without inflow."

These conditions led to Southern Downs Regional Council looking into a variety of ways to boost its water security, strategies which included mandatory water tanks on new buildings and the contentious issue of recycling water for drinking.

Ms Dobie acknowledged the country did not "have the appetite" for recycled drinking water but it should be examined just like the construction of dams or pipelines.

"You can't give up and say, well we are not going to consider any other option. You must always be planning for the future," she said.

On the issue of building the dam on the Maryland River, Tenterfield Mayor Peter Petty said he was not concerned about the affect on the Lower Clarence because of the small percentage of water being redirected.

"With the research and everything that has been done up here we are talking less than one per cent," he said.

Mr Petty said the water issues faced by regional councils now were in part due to a reluctance from governments to invest in water infrastructure and if people were serious about decentralisation then more needed to be done to shore up water supplies.

"We used to lead the world but there has been nothing done for 40 years," he said.

"I have no problem supporting populations to support industry but you cannot do it without infrastructure to secure water.

"These towns need to be supported and especially where they are looking to expand. (Towns like) Warwick and Toowoomba should have had adequate water supply years ago and now we are playing catch up."

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