Connolly Dam overflows as huge rains batter Southern Downs. Picture: SDRC
Connolly Dam overflows as huge rains batter Southern Downs. Picture: SDRC

DECADE’S PLANS: SDRC reveals water security strategy

Long-term water security and safeguarding the agricultural industry are among Southern Downs Regional Council’s top environmental priorities for the next decade.

The council unveiled the draft 2021-31 Environmental Sustainability Strategy at its March 24 meeting, detailing an “action plan” to protect the region’s natural resources.

Valuing water, reducing emissions, building economic resistance, and protecting nature were named as the four main pillars of the strategy, with several smaller goals listed within each.

SDRC stated its own targets would include reducing drinking water use by 25 per cent by 2030, and giving half of the region’s sportsgrounds access to recycled water for grounds maintenance.

The report added community standards would feature at least 90 per cent of households complying with water restrictions and increasing the general efficiency of industrial and agricultural water use.

Strategies to achieve these targets could include installing water efficiency meters at all council-owned and -leased facilities, potentially reintroducing the residential water tank rebate scheme, and promoting a water education program within Southern Downs communities.

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The report stated the region’s changing climate reinforced the need for reducing emissions markedly in the next 10 years.

“… The region is already becoming drier with decreased rainfall over winter and spring, more days over 40C, and an earlier and more severe fire season,” the report read.

“With our abundant sunshine and strong winds, Southern Downs is seen as a good area for renewable energy infrastructure.”

SDRC would aim to become a “net-zero carbon council” by 2050 under the proposed plan.

The council’s targets for building economic resilience included boosting local employment by 10 per cent and increasing eco-tourism visitors by 25 per cent by 2030.

Protecting and minimising biodiversity loss in wetlands, rivers, and native ecosystems were listed as the top priorities for safeguarding the Southern Downs’ natural resources.

SDRC is set to finalise the strategy at its April 28 meeting.


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