The region’s water improvement journey is long, but Mayor Joe Paronella believes putting effort into working out the best, long-term solutions for all of our water supply schemes will ensure that the outcomes are worth the wait.
“Councillors and council officers are also members of the community, and share the concerns regarding poor water quality resulting from a long-term lack of appropriate investment and strategic planning,” he said.
“And we understand that this is a very serious issue — affecting individuals, businesses and the general liveability and desirability of properties.
“That’s why we are committed to delivering long-term improvements to water quality and reliability across the region.
“We’ve already begun the investment of millions of dollars into solutions that will hold us in good stead for decades to come.
“The Water Business Strategy and Infrastructure Development Plan will determine the most efficient and effective solutions to improve the reliability of our water sources and meet water quality requirements in accordance with Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
“It will also help us to optimise our water supply infrastructure to ensure potable water can be provided to the community at the lowest possible whole-of-life cost while meeting both current and future demands.
“The strategy is nearing completion and we expect to have the report in March.
“From there, we’ll have built a strong position to support our investment and advocacy efforts to secure State and Federal funding for future investment.
“The development of the strategy is being fully funded by a grant from the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning’s (DSDMIP’s) Maturing the Infrastructure Pipeline Program.
“A component of the strategy work was the development of a Regional Water Supply Security Assessment (RWSSA).
“We worked with Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to better understand the ability of the Atherton Water Supply Scheme to supply water for future growth in our region.
“The Atherton RWSSA provides an assessment of the longer term adequacy of the available water sources for our projected population growth and future water demands.
“Hydraulic modelling was used to assess the performance of the water supply in meeting forecast demands and the findings are informing the development of the strategy.
“The Water Quality Improvement Plan is also kicking some goals.
“With $3.9M from Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs, Local Government Grants and Subsidies program, $3.41M from their Works for Queensland Fund and $1M from Council, we have extended pipelines and established an additional bore to alleviate the long term boil water notices in the Ravenshoe Road, Carrington Road and Hastie Road areas of Atherton.
“Commissioning of these improvements will commence in early March and we are looking forward to getting in touch with the community in that area to let them know they are no longer under boil water notices.
“In the Ravenshoe, Millstream, Bellview and Cassowary areas we are working on an integrated scheme solution based on recommendations from the planning report funded by the Queensland Government in 2018–19, however timing for each of the communities varies.
“We’ve been looking for suitable bore locations in the Ravenshoe and Millstream areas since 2019–20 and our investigations are now narrowed to the Ravenshoe area.
“If a successful site is located, bores will be drilled and pipelines constructed to provide an additional water source to Ravenshoe in 2020–21, subject to budget approval.
“This will reduce the frequency and duration of boil water notices in Ravenshoe during the wet season.
“We are also investigating if the new Ravenshoe bores could supply the Millstream, Bellview and Cassowary areas, however this will require a significant injection of funds for a reservoir and distribution network in order to integrate these communities into the Ravenshoe scheme.
“Funding for this work, if forthcoming, won’t be until 2021–22 at the earliest.
“We will need significant capital investment and support from the Government to prevent future boil water notices but, until we have certainty in relation to the bores and the outcomes of the water strategy, we can’t make any hard and fast decisions.
“DSDMIP’s Building Our Regions Fund contributed $2.3 million towards the $5.1 million upgrade of the Herberton water supply scheme.
“The new raw water main, 2ML reservoir and full treatment facilities are now providing Herberton residents with a much higher level of water quality and reliability.
“We’ve also improved the water supply scheme information we provide to the community.
“If you head to the water supply section of our website you’ll find information and diagrams about the various schemes, details about the problems they face, and how we’re working to overcome each of these problems.
“Every month we update the pages with the latest progress made.
“We still have a long way to go but we’re being sensible in how we strategically plan our improvements to ensure we get long-term benefits and the best value for money,” said Mayor Paronella.