NO CHOICE: Chris Campbell has been told he will be fined for refilling his 500L fish tank, despite it being necessary for the welfare of his animals.
NO CHOICE: Chris Campbell has been told he will be fined for refilling his 500L fish tank, despite it being necessary for the welfare of his animals. Liana Walker

'Animal welfare is a choice': Mayor on water restrictions

STANTHORPE pet owner Chris Campbell is stuck in a hard place.

He needs to change the water in his 500L aquariums.

If he does he could face hundreds in fines from the Southern Downs Regional Council for breaching water restrictions, but if he doesn't he could face up to a year's imprisonment for animal neglect.

Under high level water restrictions residents are allocated 170L per person per day.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said it was up to animal owners to decide where they would use their allocation. Once compliance came in, if they used above that amount they would be fined.

"Animal welfare is a choice of the animal owner,” Cr Dobie said.

"People need to think very carefully about what they're using (their water) for.”

RSPCA inspector for Darling Downs Shaun Jansen said, regardless of local laws, animal owners had a legal responsibility of duty of care for their animal.

"They may need to look at other sources for water,” he said. "People, if they're being water wise, may be able to accommodate topping up within the 170L.”

RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said, in an extreme circumstance where owner could prove the water was necessary for the welfare of the animal, residents should consider appealing any fines.

"We would certainly speak with the council,” he said.

However he urged residents to do whatever was necessary first to meet those restrictions.

"Instead of five minute showers have one minute showers,” he said. "170 litres is a lot of water.”

As for Mr Campbell, he has opted to change the water in his tanks, saving all the grey water for him to use on his vegie garden.

He hopes one day to pursue aquaponics - using fish water to hydroponically grow vegetables.

However, while water restrictions are in place, his main concern is the welfare of his fish.

"Nearly everyone here has animals,” Mr Campbel said.

"To be told you can't change the water in a trough for a horse will have the same impact for the animal.”

Stanthorpe Border Post

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