Why water rationing, price hikes likely for QLD

HOUSEHOLDS could be hit with water rationing and price increases to fund emergency storage solutions after the State Government ignored its own plan to kickstart the controversial recycled sewage pipeline.

The 2016 water security blueprint for southeast Queensland warns the mothballed Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme must be recommissioned when the region's dam levels drop below 60 per cent.

The document found it would take at least two years and cost more than $500 million before the network of pipes and treatment plants could produce potable water.

Dropping water levels at Wivenhoe Dam
Dropping water levels at Wivenhoe Dam

According to the plan, there is a greater risk households will be hit with draconian restrictions and the costs of new water infrastructure if the recycling scheme is belatedly brought online during a drought.

"A recommissioning trigger that is lower than 60 per cent is not considered acceptable as it would increase the risk of reaching the contingency construction trigger placing a significant cost burden on the community," it states.

However, the Government baulked at its own costly and contentious plan when dam levels dropped below the 60 per cent trigger late last year, banking instead on significant summer rain replenishing supplies. But dam levels have continued to plummet, dropping to 56 per cent, with recent rain missing the catchments while household water use has increased.

The $2.6 billion recycling scheme, built in 2006-08 during the Millennium Drought, supplied power stations but has never supplemented drinking water supplies.

Bundamba recycled water plant, stage 1 official opening with then-Premier Peter Beattie and then-Deputy Premier and minister for infrastructure Anna Bligh.
Bundamba recycled water plant, stage 1 official opening with then-Premier Peter Beattie and then-Deputy Premier and minister for infrastructure Anna Bligh.

A Government spokeswoman said expert advice was being regularly obtained to respond to the drought, with the desalination plant ramped up to full capacity.

"Seqwater has been completing early preparations this summer to be ready to restart the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, if required," she said.


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