By Jeremy Sollars and Jess Baker
The Southern Downs Regional Council says the carting of water from Connolly Dam in Warwick to Stanthorpe will be suspended from “early next week” following Storm King Dam overflowing after this week’s heavy rainfall.
And councillors are due to vote on potential easing of water restrictions at a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday 7 April.
In a statement released to Warwick & Stanthorpe Today – earlier today, Thursday 25 March – a council spokeswoman said “Storm King Dam is at full supply level and water quality is being tested at present and council is working towards ceasing water carting and changing back to water supply from Storm King Dam early next week”.
Storm King Dam is at maximum volume of 2065ML and with Stanthorpe’s average daily demand around 1.6ML to 1.8ML that equates to roughly three years’ worth of town water supply for Stanthorpe.
Current water restrictions are 120 litres per person per day for urban residential householders across the region and have been at that level since March 2020, having at that time been relaxed slightly – from 100 litres – following rainfall in February of last year.
Up until yesterday – Wednesday 24 March – according to BOM official rainfall figures Stanthorpe recorded 188.1mm for March 2021, compared to the long-term average for the month of 66.3mm.
Warwick’s Leslie Dam as of today, Thursday, is just over 25% full having received significant inflows this week. The bottom 15% of Leslie Dam is reserved for town water for Warwick, with dam owner Sunwater expected to commence irrigation releases for downstream farmers who have paid and contractual water entitlements in the next few days.
Warwick and Stanthorpe Today is awaiting a formal response from Sunwater on that issue but commencing of irrigation releases is usually swift once Leslie Dam goes above the 15% level.
12 MONTHS + OF CARTING…
Trucking of water via the New England Highway from Connolly Dam in Warwick to Stanthorpe has cost the State Government $10 million since it began in January 2020.
Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said that the Stanthorpe dam had lived up to the legacy of its name.
“The catchment has lived up to its name, the king storm has filled up Storm King Dam,” Cr Pennisi said.
“After months of reporting that Storm King Dam was at 21.8% or lower and carting an average of 565 truckloads of water to Stanthorpe per fortnight, this is a sight for sore eyes that will relieve a lot of pressure in the community.
“Water security has been a top priority for the Southern Downs Regional Council and although the recent rains have brought significant inflows into our dams, Council assures residents that it will continue to explore all avenues to responsibly manage water supply for the community.
“We have seen excellent tourist numbers carried over from 2020 to 2021 as the region saw its first sunflower crops in two years and no doubt visitors planning to come to the Southern Downs and Granite Belt over Easter for camping or fishing holidays will be overjoyed at the news of water in our dams.”
BOM OFFICIAL RAINFALL TOTALS UP UNTIL WEDNESDAY OF THIS WEEK –
• WARWICK – 277.6mm (Long-term average for March 66.3mm)
• STANTHORPE – 188.1mm (Long-term average for March 66.3mm – not a typo)