The Newman government in Queensland has released a 30-year vision for affordable, secure, sustainable and high quality water and sewerage services, a plan they say is critical to delivering reliable and cost-effective service and to maintaining business growth and lifestyle choices.
Announced this week by Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle, the strategy is being developed as part of the government’s Six Month Action Plan.
“Delivering a long-term water plan to harness the benefits and reduce the risks associated with our State’s naturally-occurring climate is an essential part of our plan for growth,” McArdle said.
McArdle said his department was working with other state departments and agencies to prepare a ‘whole-of-government’ discussion paper on the challenges and opportunities facing Queensland’s water and sewerage supply system.
“Sewerage management is a key cost to water businesses and has significant environmental impacts. We need to consider the broader water cycle and how to best implement solutions,” he said.
The government is keen to receive comments on the plan, with McArdle calling for feedback and a collaborative approach. He said the views of the local government sector, especially water and sewerage service providers, industry experts, community and businesses, are essential for success.
The Queensland Water Sector Discussion Paper, to be released in December, will consider water security and reliability, public health and safety, environmental outcomes, liveability (integrated water and land-use planning), industry resilience (including industry skills), water for Queensland industries (including agriculture and mining), partnerships and engagement, and affordability.
While McArdle made a point of criticising the former Labor government, who he blamed for the southeast Queensland water supply crisis, the state has been leading the way in water projects in recent years.
Already, 200 kilometres of large diameter pipeline has been installed beginning at the mouth of the Brisbane River, providing purified recycled water for the region’s power stations, industry and agriculture. The pipeline will also feed the Wivenhoe Dam should the region’s drinking water supplies fall below a combined capacity of 40 per cent.
Water flowing through these pipelines marked the completion of Stage 2A of the $2.5 billion Western Corridor Recycled Water Project – the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and the third largest in the world. The project has the capacity to provide up to 232 megalitres (ML) of purified recycled water a day.
While rain over the last two years has taken immediate pressure off dams, with long-range forecasters suggesting Queensland could expect a more common hot and dry summer, these strategic projects are essential in creating resilience to climate change and rainfall fluctuations.