The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Irrigators v. Toowoomba City Council: water wars ...

Excerpt from Toowoomba Chronicle (annotated):

$200m mine deal sparks water war

16 November 2007

Gowrie Creek irrigators will sue Toowoomba City Council for $80 million in lost earnings caused by a $200 million deal to supply treated waste water to New Acland coal mine.

Kingsthorpe farmer Rod Sleba said the 43-year agreement to supply 3000 megalitres a year to the mine further reduced the amount of promised water dumped into the creek and subsequently pumped by irrigators.

A 47-kilometre pipeline will supply the water from Wetalla to Acland.

It will put $4m into council's coffers in its first year, starting March 1, 2009.

The funds and agreement will become a substantial legacy to the new regional council, courtesy of the outgoing city council led by [the outgoing] Toowoomba mayor.

"This is an absolutely great outcome for the community and a good deal for the environment," she said.

However, the deal has reignited the war with irrigators which started when Millmerran power station offered to pay for the water they previously got for free back in 1997.

Mr Sleba said more than 60 irrigators faced certain ruin.

His family has been on the Kingsthorpe farm for 57 years.

He said he remembered and there were notations in minutes from annual meetings over many years where council guaranteed waste water discharges of up to 21 megalitres a day into the creek. On that basis, he said, farmers spent millions of dollars growing their farms and developing infrastructure.

Now they want compensation.

Angry Kingsthorpe farmer Geoff Arundel accused Toowoomba council of being "closet environmental vandals" and claiming there was nothing environmentally friendly about killing off a river ecosystem.

"Irrigation of the Oakey valley will die because there will be no flow in Oakey Creek to recharge the aquifers. The bores will dry up. Oakey's $6m bore fields will be gone - you don't need a degree in hydrology - just look to the Lockyer Valley.

"Councillors cry over trees being lost in the city - there's trees along the 45km long riverine (system) that won't survive."

Both the irrigators and council claim to have legal advice supporting their stands.

[The outgoing Mayor] said: "At the end of the day it all comes down to what was on their licences and, that said, the water always remained the property of Toowoomba City Council - and it was by the good graces that they received that water."

"They were always made aware it was only opportunistic water - their businesses have been predicated on a product that had no long-term security."

"Time has moved on and water has become a precious commodity. I don't believe the irrigators would be able to pay the money that the mine is paying," [the outgoing Mayor] said.

"At the end of the day, I have an absolute obligation to this community for a resource that basically has been manufactured by them."

"There will still be some water going down the creek," she said.

A New Acland spokesman said the agreement would not "interfere with the natural flows of the creek at all."

Director of Engineering Kevin Flanagan said that during drought, the city consumed 25 megalitres a day with 20 megalitres returning to the Wetalla Water Reclamation plant. The plant has the capacity to treat 30 megalitres a day.

Council, he said, was committed to the sale of 1000 megalitres to Millmerran power station and now 3000 megalitres to Acland.

Millmerran power station, in an agreement across 28 years with three options of a further five years, has first right of refusal for another 2500 megalitres a year.


See - Irrigators v. Toowoomba City Council - water wars.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say go for it Rod and the boys. It's time we stood up for the farmers and stop pandering to the big end of town.

8:17 PM, November 16, 2007

 
Anonymous watchful said...

We will have our say at the ballot box on March 8th and I doubt that any of the present Councillors will be returned. They have proved to be incompetent and dishonest, as well as arrogant and not interested in the wishes of the majority of the Toowoomba people. They have now proved to be completely heartless as well and only interested in the dollar (to make up for the money they have already wasted on the Water Futures fiasco and the failed bore). The last few years have been hell for many Toowoomba residents. Let us vote for Cr. Manners for Mayor as he is the only honest Councillor in TCC.

9:41 PM, November 16, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are all goooooone!!!!

10:13 AM, November 17, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's see who runs for mayor first

11:29 AM, November 17, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It dose not matter who else runs for Mayor as Cr Snow Manners is the one we can count on and the one who will bring stability into the running of the Council.

It's vote 1 Manners for Mayor.

11:37 AM, November 17, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's see who runs for mayor first

12:10 PM, November 17, 2007

 
Blogger Concerned Ratepayer said...

Excerpt from ABC News:

Irrigator questions council waste water plan

16 November 2007

A Kingsthorpe irrigator says Toowoomba council's decision to sell waste water is about money and not the environment.

The council yesterday announced a long-term agreement to supply the New Acland mine with water from the Wetalla Water Reclamation Plant for $4 million in the first year.

Mayor Dianne Thorley says the council will be reducing its impact on the Murray-Darling Basin by reducing discharges to Gowrie Creek.

But irrigator Geoffrey Arundel says the decision threatens the creek ecosystem and discharge into bore fields from Oakey Creek into the Oakey alluvial.

Jondaryan Mayor Peter Taylor says Toowoomba has not notified his council of the decision.

Councillor Thorley says the decision will reduce the amount of salt going into the head works of the Murray-Darling system.

She says the coal mine will not take all waste water from Wetalla, with about half of the current amount still going into the creek.

4:28 PM, November 17, 2007

 

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