Pipeline to save drought-ravaged town

TOWN-SAVING water will be pumped from Wivenhoe Dam to Warwick under a Palaszczuk Government plan to stop the regional Queensland community going dry.

The state is racing against time to investigate building a new water pipeline from south-east Queensland's largest dam to Warwick, tapping into the ­existing pipeline already supplying water to Toowoomba when its supplies run low.

It comes as Warwick braces to run out of water within 14 months - based on current predictions of below-average rainfall - if the drought holds.

Leslie Dam - which supplies the area - is down to less than 6 per cent capacity.

Leslie Dam in Warwick when full (top) and now.
Leslie Dam in Warwick when full (top) and now.

The 87km long pipeline is expected to cost about $90 million, on early estimates.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has ordered Seqwater to conduct a study into options, including the new pipeline, with the results to come back to government within four months so work can start quickly to ensure supply to the "desperately parched" region.

About $1 million has been set aside for the initial feasibility study into contingency water supply options.

"While water supply is a particular concern for a number of communities, I will not let Queensland families run out of drinking water," the Premier said. "We have ­already committed $2.4 million for infrastructure and $800,000 per month to transport water to Stanthorpe.

"With more than 15,000 residents and businesses depending on Warwick's local water supply, carting water is not a practical option.

"That's why my government will work with the Southern Downs Regional Council to explore viable solutions for the communities dependent on the Warwick supply."

The 38km pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam to Cressbrook Dam was commissioned in 2009 as part of the former Beattie government's droughtproofing water grid at a cost of $187 million.

It was first used during the drought in 2010. Council once again began pumping water in April this year. The council can take up to 10,000Ml a year with the current contract up for renegotiation next year.

Ms Palaszczuk said it made sense to explore whether it was feasible to extend that pipeline to Warwick.

"By linking Warwick through Toowoomba to the South East Queensland Water Grid, we could significantly improve supply security to the city and those who depend on it," she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said Seqwater would work with the Toowoomba and Southern Downs Regional Council on the water supply boosting options.