SMILES SHINE AFTER THE RAIN: Brent and Ian Macdonald outside the Southern Downs Garden Centre in Warwick.
SMILES SHINE AFTER THE RAIN: Brent and Ian Macdonald outside the Southern Downs Garden Centre in Warwick.

RESTRICTION RELIEF: Council to reconsider emergency status

EMERGENCY water restrictions are circling the drain after significant summer rain filled dams and tanks across the Southern Downs.

The Southern Downs Regional Council will convene tomorrow to review restrictions of 80L per person, per day, after neighbouring Tenterfield Shire Council abolished theirs entirely.

Relaxed restrictions would be the cherry on top for Ian Macdonald, the owner of The Southern Downs Garden Centre in Warwick.

The drought took a devastating toll on the family-owned business when customers were banned from watering their gardens.

The drop in sales forced the MacDonalds to mark March 1, 2020 as their closing date.

"We'd hung on for as long as we could, but you can only hang on for so long," Mr Macdonald said.

"At a certain point the stick gets slipperier and shorter and you just drop off.

"I was really thinking we'd wasted 12 years of our lives investing in this nursery."

But recent rainfall changed everything.

"It brought a bit of spirit back into this town," Mr Macdonald said.

"It breathed new life into the nursery industry and changed our whole outlook."

The growing, green grass, rejuvenated plants and extra tank water boosted confidence in the future of the little nursery on Bracker Rd.

Water restriction relief could help further but Mr Macdonald said he didn't want to be selfish.

"My heart says council should cut us a bit of slack because the town has done incredibly well to get water usage down," he said.

"If it wasn't for the community getting on board we would have run out of water completely.

"But my brain reminds me the drought isn't over yet, Storm King Dam is still empty, and we're still taking water to Stanthorpe."

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie told The Daily News councillors would be loathe to relax restrictions while carting continues to take water from Connolly Dam to Storm King Dam.

"We have to bear in mind we're still trucking water to Stanthorpe and cannot stop until we get about six months of water supply," Cr Dobie said.

Despite receiving more than 185mm of rainfall this year to date, the dam at Stanthorpe was boosted to just 17.5 per cent.

"We need to remember that even with all of our tanks and dams filled up, we could still return to the worst of drought within 12 months," Mr Macdonald said.

"Council needs to make a cautious decision, with one eye to the future."


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