Conserving water as a Council

Improvements in water sustainability can only be achieved by changes in water management practices. As a Council, we adapt our business practices to ensure water usage decreases as drought conditions continue. We must maintain a healthy balance between continuing to provide services and responsible and sustainable water use. Promotion of water conservation in the community is equally important in our aim to improve water sustainability.

The information below details our approach to ensuring water reduction in our own activities and our work with the community and business sectors to conserve water.

The following practices are in place in our Region's pools to help conserve water:

  • The emptying and refilling of pools across our Region only takes place when major works that rely on the emptying of the pool are required.
  • Fake grass has been installed around the pool at the Milne Bay Aquatic and Fitness Centre. Installation of fake grass around the Highfields Aquatic and Fitness Centre will also be investigated. Pools in regional areas use reclaimed backwash water or rainwater on grassed areas.
  • Showers on timers have been installed at Highfields Aquatic and Fitness Centre and several regional pools. As upgrades are rolled out, timed shower systems will be implemented.
  • Rainwater tanks are installed at all pool facilities for use in the topping up of pools, backwashing of filters or watering of grounds if required.

As a regular users of water resources, our construction & maintenance workforce are careful to keep water conservation in mind when performing their duties.

Where possible, non-potable water is used for roadworks and recycled water is used where it is safe to do so. Investigations into the production of recycled water of a suitable quality are underway. An additive is mixed with the water to extend the effectiveness of the water on resheeting and maintenance road activities.

As water restrictions tighten, the work schedule is reviewed and the need for the works is assessed. In areas where water is scarce, works may be delayed.

Approximately 10 years ago all existing Council buildings were retrofitted with water saving devices, including dual flush toilets and reduced flow taps. Where practical, rainwater tanks were installed and connected to functions that can use non-potable water e.g. toilets and gardens.

All new Council buildings are fitted, when designed, with the latest water saving devices. The new Charlton Depot, which is expected to host around 500 staff, has a 750 kilolitre rainwater tank to service toilets, the wash-down plant and provide irrigation for the plant nursery and landscaping.

Advertising

An ongoing water conservation advertising campaign has been targeted towards residents and businesses within Toowoomba Region since September 2018, to encourage water saving behaviour and ensure water users are aware of the ongoing strain on our water resources.

The advertising campaign has consisted of:

  • social media advertising
  • radio advertising
  • newspaper advertising
  • corflute advertising
  • stationary town sign advertising
  • bus shelter advertising
  • bus sticker advertising
  • billboard advertising
  • media releases
  • community interaction at events
  • flyers and brochures.

Messages within the advertising campaign include:

  • current water restrictions levels and what these mean for residents
  • increase of water restrictions levels for different areas when required
  • tips to reduce water usage
  • updates on stressed water supplies
  • information on personally checking for water leaks and our water leak checking service
  • updates on dam water levels
  • updates on the use of Wivenhoe pipeline.

 

Resources

Information on water saving practices, water supplies and storage levels, current water restrictions and general water updates are available to the community via our website. A range of school resources have also been developed and are listed online.

 

Future water management plans

Reduced rainfall and changes in rainfall timing are presenting us with ongoing water challenges. We are implementing plans and making changes to ensure the Toowoomba Region becomes more water resilient.  

From 2 December, residential water restrictions targets were lowered to help reduce water use in the Toowoomba Region. Targets were reduced by:

Restriction level

(L/p/d) prior to 2 December

(L/p/d) beginning 2 December

Low

200

200

Medium

200

175

High

170

150

Extreme

140

125

Over recent years a number of investigations have been made into additional water sources such as the Interim Report on the Toowoomba Water Supply Task Force and Water and Wastewater Strategy Study for Toowoomba and the Surrounding Areas.

Options typically raised during water future investigations include building a new dam. Cooby, Perseverance and Cressbrook dams are rated as ‘B Grade’ water sources. Other possible sites for water supply dams within the Region are considered ‘C Grade’ sites at best. This combined with the expected 25-year approval and construction timeframe are significant considerations in the use of this option. Additionally, we continue to advocate for our Region in discussions with the Federal Government for solutions for our Region and a number of our neighbouring Councils.

Depending on the catchment properties, some dams may suffer from reduced capacity from the build-up of silt. Periodic tests have proven this not to be a significant concern for existing water supply dams. Routine monitoring programs keep an eye on this.

These investigations will continue as new technologies become available and other influencing factors may change.

In addition to accessing water from Wivenhoe Dam and water from that catchment, the Wivenhoe pipeline provides us a connection to the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme (WCRWS) in drought conditions. Under SEQWater's drought response plan, the WCRWS begins preparations when the combined level of dams that make up the water grid reach 60% capacity. The WCRWS is required to be fully operational and supplementing supply to Wivenhoe Dam if combined grid levels fall to 40% capacity. The water grid is made up of 12 dams: Wivenhoe, Somerset, North Pine, Hinze, Baroon Pocket, Leslie Harrison, Ewen Maddock, Cooloolabin, Sideling Creek, Lake Macdonald, Little Nerang and Wappa.

On 19 November 2019, we approved a plan to implement a rainwater tank rebate initiative and called for expressions of interest for irrigators to supply ground water for our use. Read about these initiatives in detail in our 'Water security initiatives - rainwater tank rebate & EOI for irrigators to supply ground water' article.