NEXT LEVEL: Southern Downs Regional Council held a press conference yesterday to discuss new water restrictions.
NEXT LEVEL: Southern Downs Regional Council held a press conference yesterday to discuss new water restrictions. Matthew Purcell

Extreme level now imposed

THE most restrictive water levels are now in place with Southern Downs Regional Council attempting to stave off Storm King Dam 'failing'.

Extreme water restrictions have been imposed effective immediately, council announced at press conference earlier today.

Residents will now be relied upon to use no more than 120 litres per person, per day, or face a future where Storm King Dam dries up by November of this year, or sooner.

"The majority of our rural residents have empty house tanks and those residents are buying town water. That has led to an unprecedented demand since January on our reticulated water systems,” SDRC mayor Tracy Dobie said.

"It is essential for our us to continue to provide drinking water to all the residents of our region, whether they be in our towns or our rural areas.

"We've resolved as a council to move to extreme water restrictions so we can sustain and conserve the regions water supply until we get rain.

"The restrictions will apply to every resident that purchases water from council, whether that resident lives in the urban or rural area.”

Cr Dobie said council would review the measures again on May 1.

Director for Infrastructure Graham O'Byrne said that aging infrastructure continues to diminish supply, with up to 25 per cent of the regions water being lost to leaks, every year. He also suggested the community had failed to heed warnings to date.

"We've got a situation where the water demand in some areas is between 350 and 400 litres per capita, per day. That's in the order of twice the previous high level restrictions.

"We've got a community at the moment that have not been recognising the urgency and requirements to reduce their water usage, thus the need to push into 120 litres per day.

"We've had water theft. We've had instances where people have actually been breaking locks on our standpipes, breaking locks into our treatment plants to obtain water without any payment and without any knowledge of council.

"The water theft itself has meant the water usage has escalated and placed additional stress on the reticulated system,” he said.

Non compliant residents will receive two written warnings before the possibility of a fine.

"(Those funds) would go into consolidated revenue. It would be subject to being collected by the normal mechanisms through local government and state government,” SDRC CEO David Keenan said.

Council have also committed to monitoring the water usage of businesses from outside the realms of the region who have been accessing water for construction purposes.

However, council wouldn't be drawn too much on the reported level of raw water usage being utilised to maintain Warwick's Polocrosse fields ahead of the World Cup in April.

Cr Dobie said they could vary an existing contract with the club, but wouldn't commit to doing so.

Mr O'Byrne also addressed concerns of water for animals and livestock. Both he, and Cr Dobie, maintain that the water purchased from council is for domestic, not livestock purposes.

"What we've asked of the water carters is they only deliver that water to a tank connected to a house,” Cr Dobie said.

"Through the water supply act, as a water provider, we can actually impose water restrictions on any water purchased, any potable water. So that's the action we'll be enforcing,” Mr O'Byrne said.

He said people could access state government support in order to provide for livestock.

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