By Jess Baker
Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) has denied a request from Warwick Polocrosse Club for the use of 15 ML of raw water due to current water restrictions.
The club, located at Morgan Park, told Council officers the use of the raw water from Connolly Dam would be required to prepare the grounds for an upcoming event to be held in April 2021.
The use of raw water is under the same water restrictions as drinking water – 120 litres per person per day, with no outside watering of grounds permitted.
While SDRC has previously provided an exemption to the Warwick Polocrosse Club in the lead up to the 2019 World Polocrosse event at Morgan Park, the decision was not received well by the public at the time.
Cr McDonald acknowledged current restrictions in last week’s January council meeting, but said SDRC must consider Covid-19’s “crippling effect on the tourist industry”.
“I am very concerned about water, no different to anybody else within this community, however I would say that there needs to be some consideration given to major events to buoy our tourist industry and bring it back to life once again,” she said.
Cr McDonald asked that the matter be deferred to allow Council officers more time to explore SDRC’s options.
Cr Tancred suggested SDRC consider a temporary pipeline as a solution.
“I’m not thinking about a permanent pipeline, I just know that a lot of farmers in the Granite Belt lay temporary pipelines – blue Lay Flat (hoses) 65 mm – all the time and move water,” he said.
“I just think it’s more palatable that we use recycled water that people can’t drink… rather than water that people could be drinking.”
Council’s Director of Infrastructure Services Seren McKenzie said officers would have to look into that suggestion further, but it could possibly offer a solution.
“Council might have to make some decisions about who to supply the recycled water to for that period,” she said.
“It is already highly subscribed so there might be some concerns about who’s getting priority over who that we’d need to address.”
Another potential solution raised in the meeting was to have water piped from the Warwick Saleyards to Morgan Park through Warwick’s recently completed Industrial Estate pipeline.
“(The pipeline) is completed but we haven’t yet started using it, so we would need to make sure that we get through that process as well,” said the Director.
“I believe it’s ready to be commissioned, there are just a few final tweaks to be made.”
The recommendation brought to Council – that the request for watering of the Warwick Polocrosse Club grounds at Morgan Park be denied – was carried. All councillors eligible to vote voted in favour of the motion.
Mayor Vic Pennisi said he believed previous councils had always planned to have Warwick’s newest pipeline go to Morgan Park.
All councillors eligible to vote voted to have officers explore “other commercial strategies” to supply water to Morgan Park, conduct a review of the supply of raw water users along the pipeline, and assess the possibility of providing short term access of recycled water to the site, then return to Council with their findings.
Cr Gliori was not present in the meeting for discussion of the matter, or for the vote, as he had declared a declarable conflict of interest.