By Jess Baker
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a $20 million Drought Resilience Package for the Southern Downs, which includes an $8.1 million investment in early works for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline.
The Premier visited Warwick on Thursday 15 April to make the announcement, along with Queensland Minister for Water Glenn Butcher.
She said her government is “absolutely committed” to building the pipeline and to drought-proofing the region with the $20 million package, which includes $8.1 million in preparatory pipeline works and $4.6 million in upgrades to reconnect groundwater available to Allora.
The package includes a further $1.4 million to help Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) move Warwick’s commercial businesses off town supply and onto bore water, $4.5 million to increase Leslie Dam’s usable water capacity by 1700 megalitres, and $700,000 to support SDRC unlock new water sources for Warwick, Allora and Stanthorpe.
Premier Palaszczuk said the proposed pipeline will now also include the townships of Cambooya, Greenmount, Nobby and Clifton.
“Because we’ve had the extra rain, we’ve been able to do more work which means those other townships will be added,” she said.
The new funding comes just two weeks after the state government’s $15 million water carting program from Connolly Dam to Stanthorpe ceased.
“It’s great to see Stanthorpe now has had that rain and that water carting is not needed but we still need to continue with my commitment to build that pipeline from Toowoomba through to Warwick,” said the Premier.
Seqwater will now work with the Toowoomba Regional Council and with SDRC to deliver the pipeline.
Toowoomba regional councillor Nancy Sommerfield and Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi were also present at Thursday’s press conference in Warwick.
Mayor Vic Pennisi thanked the Premier for her government’s support over the last year and said the council looks forward to working together on the pipeline.
“The detailed business case for me is the way forward … whether (the pipeline) is affordable, whether it’s not affordable, it’s the next stage in the process,” he said.
The Premier said 703 jobs will be created in construction of the pipeline, many of which will be local.