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.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SEQ water grid - Gold Coast desal plant shutdown to keep Brisbane dams below 60% ...

Coast's great water rort

April 18 2009

The Tugun desalination plant has mysteriously stopped pumping just as the combined dam level of southeast Queensland nears 60 per cent - the trigger needed to end the drought.

Less than a month ago the plant was pumping almost 120ML of water a day.

However, records sighted by The Weekend Bulletin yesterday show output has been steadily declining and stopped completely on Thursday.

The combined water level in southeast Queensland dams was 59.09 per cent yesterday. If it hits 60 per cent, the drought will be over and crippling water restrictions which have been in place for years will have to be eased.

Officers from the SEQ Water Grid Manager made the call to turn the taps off at the desalination plant.

Hundreds of megalitres of 'clean' water has also been dumped from the overflowing Hinze Dam after workers opened a scour valve to allow them to keep their schedule to raise the dam wall by 15m.

Mayor Ron Clarke and Queensland Opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek last night dubbed the billion-dollar southeast Queensland water grid a 'swindle' after revelations water was not being pumped north to bump the Brisbane combined dams to 60 per cent of capacity.

Recent rainfall has left southeast Queensland dams agonisingly short of the magic 60 per cent mark that would allow Premier Anna Bligh to officially declare an end to the drought.

Early yesterday, an SEQ Water spokesman reported that despite massive rainfall across the region it would be 'unlikely' that the 60 per cent figure would be reached.

"But I think we can say that those inflows we've had from the recent rain are really starting to fall away quite rapidly," he said.

"If it does come, it will come in a trickle."

Cr Clarke said he was suspicious about the use of the water grid, especially with copious amounts of water being wasted on the Gold Coast.

"They've got this desalination plant and it's operating up to 125ML a day," said Cr Clarke.

"Over the last two weeks it has been operating at a very low level of around about 20ML.

"Then all of a sudden it came down to zero."

The $1.18 billion desalination plant began operating in late February.

Mr Langbroek said the 'white elephant' plant should be operating at full capacity.

"Some serious questions have been asked about how the water grid is being run," said Mr Langbroek.

"Billions of dollars have been spent on the grid, which we were told by Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh that we so desperately needed.

"To think that they would not use the desalination plant and harness natural resources from Hinze Dam is mind boggling."

A SEQ Water Grid Manager spokeswoman told The Weekend Bulletin that the Water Grid Manager had decided to decrease output from the desalination plant.

"In early April, the Water Grid Manager requested that the Gold Coast desalination plant operate at 33 per cent," she said.

The spokeswoman also confirmed water could be pumped from the Hinze Dam to Brisbane, Logan and Ipswich homes and businesses to conserve water in the three major Brisbane dams.

Sources have told The Weekend Bulletin the pipelines have not been pumping excess water being currently being wasted over the spillway.

There are five major water bodies created to oversee the SEQ water grid.

Hundreds of bureaucrats work for the Queensland Water Commission, SEQ Water, WaterSecure, the SEQ Water Grid Manager and Linkwater.

Mermaid Waters MP Ray Stevens said the bodies were used by the State Government to tweak figures and justify the existence of the water infrastructure.

"They would clearly like to see the level remain under 60 per cent so they can justify their billion-dollar grid as well as the Traveston Crossing Dam they want to build," said Mr Stevens.

If levels reach 60 per cent permanent conservation measures that allow gardens and lawns to be watered within certain hours daily except Mondays will be introduced.

The three Brisbane dams were last full in 2001.

See - GoldCoast.com.au - Gold Coast desal plant shutdown.

It will be interesting if Anna Bligh's plan is to run the desal plant so that Brisbane's combined dam levels stay close to 60% ...

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