Tank plan for dry towns
Residents of a drought-affected QLD town say tanks are not enough to solve their lack of potable water.
Over half of the towns in the Western Downs Regional Council area do not have access to a potable water scheme.
In some towns, like the drought-hit community of Dulacca, untreated water is supplied from a saline bore or turbid creek.
Many residents say their water looks off-colour, muddy and does not smell or taste good.
A recent petition to the council for better water infrastructure prompted an investigation into alternative water supplies.
The subsequent report said potable water supply options for some of the small communities would be too expensive.
It found that building a desalination plant at the local bore would cost over $1.5 million, and carting water would cost nearly $350,000 a year.
The Western Downs council last week voted to accept the report’s finding that rainwater tanks would be the only viable option for these small townships.
“With such a small number of people connected to the water out there it would end up costing more for the region than what these people realise, and they would also be hit up for additional costs,” councillor and utilities spokesperson Peter Saxelby has told reporters.
The council decided to expand an existing subsidy for rainwater tanks - offering a $2,000 rebate on tanks with more than 40,000 litres of capacity.
The council claims the scheme added 3.2 million litres of additional water supply to the region in the last financial year.
“This is the simple, effective way we can help people get access to clean drinking water in rural communities,” Cr Saxelby said.
However, some locals say paying for more rainwater tanks is a ‘bandaid fix’ for a much larger problem.
Western Downs Regional Council is investing $16 million in the “long-term viability” of the water supply in its most populous town of Dalby. It has also decided to spend over $19 million on parks and open spaces to boost “liveability”.
Residents of smaller nearby towns say their basic needs should be met first.