Government pumps millions into Southern Downs water security

19 April 2021

The Queensland Government is investing millions to keep taps flowing in the Southern Downs with the announcement of a $20 million drought resilience package for the region.

While recent rain has provided much needed relief to the Southern Downs region including good inflows into Leslie, Connolly and Storm King Dams, it hasn’t been enough to solve long-term water security issues for the Southern Downs.

In late 2019, in response to low supplies in the region’s dams, the Queensland Government committed to plan for a new pipeline from Toowoomba to Warwick.

This commitment was in addition to $15 million in emergency assistance provided to cart water into Stanthorpe.

While water carting is no longer needed with Storm King Dam now at 100 per cent capacity, the commitment to provide water security to the wider Southern Downs region still stands.

The next step in providing water security for the region is the $20 million Southern Downs Drought Resilience Package.

The package will provide ongoing emergency relief to this community, as well as form the basis for long-term water security and includes immediate funding to unlock new water sources, upgrade critical infrastructure and lay the groundwork for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline and also create jobs.

The package includes:

  • $8.1 million in preparatory works for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline, including detailed design, surveying and geotechnical works
  • $4.6 million in upgrades, including enhanced water treatment, to reconnect groundwater available to the Allora township, freeing up to 350 megalitres of additional Southern Downs urban water supply annually
  • $1.4 million to help Southern Downs Regional Council to move a range of industries from using precious urban water supplies to groundwater – including local processing and industrial businesses
  • $4.54 million to increase Leslie Dam’s usable water capacity by upgrading its pumps and water treatment systems, increasing usable storage capacity by an additional 1700 megalitres
  • $700 000 to support Southern Downs Regional Council investigations into local groundwater supplies for Warwick, Allora and Stanthorpe, and to support Sunwater’s efficiency and innovation investigations at Leslie Dam.

These immediate measures could deliver an additional 13 months of water supply for the Southern Downs communities and industries; importantly, this package funds preparatory works for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline.

Back in December 2019, Stanthorpe’s Storm King Dam was close to running dry and Leslie Dam was expected to run dry. Nearby, Connolly Dam was being depleted quickly with water being carted from the dam to supply Stanthorpe.

Since then, the Queensland Government has been working closely with Southern Downs and Toowoomba Regional Councils to get those regions the relief they need.

Learn more about the Southern Downs drought resilience package.

Last updated: 19 Apr 2021