The Townsville Water Security Taskforce today released its interim report, recommending a $200 million duplicate pipeline be constructed
from Haughton Pump Station to Ross River Dam within the next two years.
The report also recommended the new pipeline come with solutions for high voltage and renewable energy connectivity to lower energy costs associated with water transportation from the Burdekin Falls Dam to Townsville.
“We are recommending a larger capacity duplicate pipeline be initiated as a priority and we’re binding it to cheaper energy solutions,” chair Brad Webb said.
The interim report provided a list of short and medium-term recommendations and long-term options to three levels of government following several months of consultation,technical reviews and deliberations.
Mr Webb said the immediate solution and major piece of infrastructure had funding in place courtesy of the Palascszuk Government and represented the most efficient use of public funds for the greatest return.
“We have finite resources and a bird in the hand right now, so I think our community can live comfortably knowing that two years from now we will have abundant water for the next 15 years, and that this solution sets us up for further long-term growth beyond that,” he said.
State Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to working with Townsville City Council and the Australian Government to implement the report findings.
“The Palaszczuk Government understands the need for action and that is why we have $225 million on the table for water security measures for Townsville,” Mr Bailey said.
“This funding is ready to go and could be used to fund short-term solutions, such as demand management and supply efficiency measures, as well as long-term infrastructure options such as the duplication of the pipeline from the Haughton Pump Station to Ross River Dam.
“We are serious about our commitment to the North and our commitment to regional Queensland, and a secure water supply will support our communities and provide confidence for the continued expansion of industries that support jobs.
“This adds to our $236 million committed as part of the Powering North Queensland Plan to upgrade Burdekin Falls Dam and fund the proposed hydro-electric power station, an investment in water supply and sustainable energy generation in the North.”
The duplicate pipeline would be designed and constructed to be ready for further expansions and up-scaled pumping capacity to meet Townsville’s future water demands as the city grows over the next 50 years.
“This new pipeline will deliver greater volume and more secure water supply to Townsville than previous designs for a duplicated line would have, and it will come with lower operating costs,” Mr Webb said.
“We are recommending installation of solar energy as well as access to the high voltage network for cheaper base load rates and to connect to the National Energy Market to sell any excess solar energy produced.”
“On top of supply solutions, we believe the future must also involve optimising our city’s water consumption levels and we are recommending a range of management strategies including an immediate roll out of subsidies to residents and businesses willing to fast-track our transition to a more water efficient city,” Mr Webb said.
The report advocates for authorities to embrace leakage reduction technologies, installation of wastewater re-use systems and changes to some of
the regulatory framework around non-potable water use.
It has not made any long-term recommendations on regional water security, instead stating that the options available include raising the wall of the Burdekin Falls Dam and construction of the Hell’s Gate Dam.
The taskforce’s final report is due in September 2018, once further technical studies are completed.
Formed out of the Townsville City Deal, announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Premier Annastacia Palasczuk and Mayor Jenny Hill in December 2016, the TWST is comprised of independent chair and local businessman Brad Webb, Adam Sincock (Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources director), Paul Simshauser (Department of Energy and Water Supply director general) and Adele Young (Townsville City Council chief executive officer).
Cr Hill welcomed the release of the Townsville Water Security Taskforce interim report, saying it provided a clear technical solution to Townsville’s water security.
“We have ironclad funding guarantees from the State Government and opposition that will ensure the ratepayers are not left footing the bill,” she said.
“The value of council insisting that water security is non-negotiable as part of the City Deal was instrumental in getting this outcome for the community.
“We will now consider the recommendations in the report to work out the best way forward.
“Without establishing the taskforce there would have been many solutions bandied about and we would not have a clear and unified solution.
“This is a watershed moment for securing Townsville’s water supply now and into the future.”