In 2009/10 a task force, established by the State Government, made a decision to provide long term water supply security to the region by building a pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam.
Ten years later, with the region experiencing one of the worst droughts on record, Toowoomba Regional Council Water and Waste Committee Chair Cr Nancy Sommerfield said Council was preparing to turn on the pipeline.
“Having a safe and reliable water supply is top of the agenda for Toowoomba Regional Council and that’s why we invested in this project,” she said.
“The pipeline connecting to Wivenhoe Dam is part of our water storage plan and acts as a fourth dam to ensure the region’s water sustainability.
“Since 2011, the pipeline has only been used for routine testing with staff in the process of preparing the pipeline to be ready for its intended use, when required by Council.
“Council’s policy determines that the pipeline can be used when Cressbrook Dam falls below 40% capacity to ensure optimal electricity use for litres pumped and we have now reached that trigger point.
“In preparation, testing and maintenance has been performed as part of the recommissioning process. Minor repairs have been required, which is not unusual for an asset that is almost nine years old.
“As a part of these works, a pipe coupling seal required replacement, with normal operation expected by the end of March should we choose to turn the pipeline on from April.
“Prior to the switch on, numerous factors such as rainfall, electricity prices and other operating costs will be monitored to determine the initial pumping operational duty cycle.
“Council is considering a range of matters in order to optimise operation of the pipeline, manage water security risks and manage costs of operation and the impact on our community’s use of water.
“While the ongoing drought is heart-breaking, it’s reassuring that we have this piece of infrastructure in place which can provide up to 10,000 ML a year to our water security for users connected to the Toowoomba bulk supply.
“This allocation of water won’t fill our dams, but it does provide our region with water security for many years to come.
“In addition to this, we continue to ask everyone in the community to limit water usage to 200 L per person per day.
“Water restrictions are in place throughout the region and unless we receive some much-needed rain, we may need to transition to tougher restrictions and enforcement actions.”
The pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam is 38 km long and 762 mm in diameter. Two pumps are required to lift the water 240 m to Cressbrook Dam. There is an additional lift required to move the water from Cressbrook Dam to the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant.
TRC Finance and Business Strategy Committee Chair Cr Mike Williams said Council sets water pricing each year as a part of its Budget.
“Current pricing is set in place until the end of June 2019,” he said.
“Council will look to manage any additional costs through the usual budget processes with the aim of limiting impact on the community wherever possible.
“Unlike many other Councils, particularly those on the South East Queensland Water Grid, we own and operate our own extensive water networks that supplies clean water to more than 160,000 consumers.
“Water rates have to reflect the true cost of delivering water and maintaining and replacing infrastructure for everyone connected to the network.
“Our water business consists of over $1.4 billion in infrastructure, which is in need of significant renewal or replacement investment.
“To ensure this is a responsible approach, Council is following a price path recommended by the Queensland Treasury Corporation after they conducted an extensive review in 2016, to ensure we are able to maintain and replace our ageing water assets in a timely manner.
For more information on the pipeline visit www.tr.qld.gov.au/wivenhoe or contact Council on 131 872.