Surf Lakes gets second wave from Livingstone Shire
MAYOR Bill Ludwig has gone against Livingstone Council staff's recommendation to refuse a discount to Surf Lakes for water charges and is instead giving the private company his full support.
The issue was bought to the table of Monday's ordinary council meeting and created some heavy discussion between councillors.
The privately-funded company previously received a discount on the premise it would benefit the local economy and applied to Council again for the discount but it was recommended since they have moved to open a public one in the Gold Coast the discount was not viable again.
Surf Lakes Holdings Ltd wrote to Council on February 18 2019 seeking a reduced water consumption charge to refill their dam.
In 2017, Surf Lakes applied and were successful in gaining a connection to the Rockhampton Yeppoon pipeline for the supply of water to fill the dam and a reduction in the water charges was requested.
Council resolved in November 2017 that "given this project could bring substantial future economic activity and benefit to the region" they would grant a reduction on a cost plus basis at $1.30 per kilolitre as opposed to the current charge of $1.99 per kl.
The initial fill-up came to 78,522kl and Surf Lakes paid $102,078.60. This was a discounted reduction of $54,180.18.
The company had entered into a Temporary Water Supply Agreement - Private Works Connection and given it was a prototype, no infrastructure charges or planning approvals were required.
On February 18, the CEO of Surf Lakes wrote to Council requesting consideration for another charges reduction as they have to refill again.
The prototype had suffered a malfunction and the wave pool needed to be drained to carry out repairs before being refilled again.
"Repairs are now under way and the budget is extremely tight as we needed to raise additional funds to complete the repair," part of the letter read.
It was noted in the report Surf Lakes' plans had changed since the initial fill-up.
"The company has stated that they do not intend for this site to be a commercial venture and this was recently confirmed by a news article in The Morning Bulletin which confirmed a commitment to construction of a public access facility at the Gold Coast. A company spokesman is quoted as stating 'The Yeppoon site was always just a research and development facility...'," the officer's report read.
"Council was supportive of the first request to assist the company at a time when it was unknown if the large scale prototype would operate as anticipated. The design has proven to be viable and the company has committed to construction of a commercial facility at the Gold Coast in addition to stating that there is widespread interest in several countries to purchase licenses to utilise the technology. It would appear the reasons relied upon by Council to support the initial request are no longer relevant, or at least significantly diminished."
Councillor Adam Belot was excused from the agenda item as he declared a conflict of interest as he in the process of becoming a shareholder. Councillor Pat Eastwood was also excused as he is a shareholder and has been for a number of years.
Mayor Bill Ludwig noted the recommendation and offered another option of Council to accept the request and to offer Surf Lakes the same discount once again.
He said the request wasn't unreasonable and he would like to support entrepreneurs.
"They are going to keep it as a prototype, they are going to bring people here and there is still the opportunity for that prototype to be developed in its own right," he said.
"I think it takes a lot of guts for someone to take something from a concept to a full-blown prototype as we have seen there.
"It is something that is world renowned will be a win for our region." Cr Ludwig explained it did not cost Council any money for the water.
Councillor Jan Kelly acknowledged both sides of the issue and said it did not sit comfortably with her for Surf Lakes "to get a second bite of the cherry".
"I recognise it didn't come as a cost to any ratepayers but it did come as a loss of income to the ratepayers," she said.
Councillor Tom Wyatt also asked if Council could be recognised for their support through some signage at their Yeppoon and Gold Coast facility. The motion to offer the same discounted rate with a signage recommendation was moved by Cr Ludwig.