Drought resilience package for the Southern Downs region

The drought resilience package will provide vital drought resilience for drinking water supplies in the Southern Downs region. This package is being delivered in partnership with the Southern Downs Regional Council, Seqwater and Sunwater.

In April 2021, the Queensland Government invested $19.34 million in the package that includes the following activities:

  • investigative activities for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline
  • early construction works to augment local supplies
  • investigations into new water supplies and opportunities
  • upgrading the Warwick Water Treatment Plant.

In June 2023, the state committed an additional $8.5 million from the Toowoomba to Warwick Pipeline funding to enable the Southern Downs Regional Council to install around 9000 water meters throughout Warwick, Allora, Yangan, Killarney, Dalveen, Leyburn, Wallangarra and Pratten. These will provide real-time information on water use and flow rates to help Council find leaks and save water. It build's on its existing network monitoring program in Stanthorpe. This work will take about 4 years for Council to complete.

Progress to date

Delivery of the package has progressed well, with all key milestones reached. This includes the completion of:

  • Preparatory works for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline by Seqwater, which included detailed design, survey, ecological and geotechnical investigations, capital cost estimates, a review of environment and heritage approvals.
  • Installation of new pumps and switchboards by the Southern Downs Regional Council to access a portion of the water from Leslie Dam that was previously below the level of the old pumps.
  • Market testing for opportunities to convert medium-priority water entitlements to town use, and efficiency and innovation opportunities to reduce water losses at Leslie Dam by Sunwater.
  • Groundwater assessments by Council for additional supply for Warwick, Allora and Stanthorpe areas.
  • Field investigations and testing of groundwater bores by Council for Warwick and Allora areas.
  • Commissioning of the refurbished pump booster system on the Connolly Dam line connection by Council as a potential secondary supply for Warwick, if required.

Investigations into new water supplies and opportunities

Council has tested new bores around Warwick with good yields and water quality. Construction of connecting works will integrate an additional 100 megalitres each year into the Council’s existing supply arrangements.

These investigations show new groundwater opportunities around Stanthorpe are severely limited by the local geology. Low yield, unreliable supply and variable water quality groundwater are unreliable for town water supply during drought. Only a small volume of seasonally available water would be available, which has generally been used for stock and domestic purposes. Take for town water supply would affect nearby users.

The bores at Allora have also been recommissioned, and are currently being used by Council e.g. for its road construction works.

When the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline is operating, up to 350 megalitres from the Allora bores can be blended with water from Wivenhoe Dam each year. This reduces the volume needed from Wivenhoe Dam during droughts and benefits Southern Downs residents and the Council by minimising operating costs for the pipeline.

Upgrading the Warwick Water Treatment Plant

Council has started water quality testing assessments, modelling the options for blending various water supply sources, and other investigations to plan for upgrades to the Warwick Water Treatment Plant.

The upgrades will ensure the treatment plant can treat all of the water sources available to Council, including 1700 megalitres held in Leslie Dam’s dead storage, if it’s needed.

Smart reticulation and network monitoring

Water networks tend to lose some water through leaks, which can worsen as they age. This new monitoring system will allow the Council to identify where leaks occur so they can be fixed. This will help water to be used efficiently and conserved to improve future drought resilience.

Next steps

  • Construction to connect the new bore at Warwick with the Council’s water supply system, and to connect three bores near Allora for longer-term use by the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline.
  • Additional infrastructure work will be undertaken by Sunwater to ensure Council can access the remaining portion of the Leslie Dam dead storage. This will provide Council with a contingency supply during drought, if required.
  • Investigation and design to upgrade the Warwick Water Treatment Plant, capable of treating various supply mix as part of the Warwick water supply system.
  • Planning, investigation and design of the smart reticulation and network monitoring, followed by installation of meters and commissioning.

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Last updated: 12 Jul 2023