Wayne Pollard has lived on the edge of Leslie Dam for 21 years and never seen it so low. But he believes the water will be back.
Wayne Pollard has lived on the edge of Leslie Dam for 21 years and never seen it so low. But he believes the water will be back. Elyse Wurm

Need to see dry times to appreciate the true oasis

THE beautiful, vast expanse of water made Wayne Pollard feel like he was sitting at the beach rather than at the edge of Leslie Dam.

But that was eight years ago and when Warwick's water attraction was full to the brim and would lap just a stone's throw from his home.

These days it's easiest to jump in the ute to go down to the water's edge that's a couple of hundred metres away, as the dam sits at 7.41percent capacity.

Mr Pollard has watched the dam go through ups and downs in his 21 years of living on land that looks over the Sandy Creek portion of the waterway.

While the creek has now diminished to a width narrow enough to throw an empty beer can over, Mr Pollard believes the water will be back.

"It's hard to believe people ski over all this. You would be driving boats over it," Mr Pollard said, pointing out across the edge of the water where large boulders that usually sit below the water's edge now protrude along the bank with logs and other debris.

 

Boulders that are usually submerged are now visible.
Boulders that are usually submerged are now visible. Elyse Wurm

Cows now graze over the brown, crunchy grass on land that would usually be submerged in deep water.

Mr Pollard has seen more koalas, echidnas and dingos around his property in the past month.

He puts the visits down to their search for food and water while other water sources around the region are running low.

When he moved in two decades ago, the land surrounding the dam was green and lush. "It was like an oasis in the desert, but in saying that we've got to see the dry times," he said.

Mr Pollard said the level of the water had been gradually decreasing, but the change since Christmas had been dramatic.

The dam is now at the lowest level he has ever seen but at the forefront of his mind is not his own view, but those who rely on the water for their livelihood.

"You've got to feel for the farmers and people in town who rely on town water and the business it provides," Mr Pollard said.

"The impact of people not coming here, they would go into town to do their groceries or buy a carton of beer.

"I think it will have a big effect on Warwick because they need this water."

Using tank water at his home, supplemented with dam water just to flush the toilet, Mr Pollard said moving to the country from Toowoomba had been eye-opening.

"I didn't appreciate the value of water until we moved here, you don't just turn on a tap or wash the car," he said.

"We've never had to buy drinkable water but the way it's going, we might."

 

Leslie Dam sitting at seven per cent capacity.
Leslie Dam sitting at seven per cent capacity. Contributed

Mr Pollard said he had seen as many as 30 boats in the section of water closest to his home, but now the number was decreasing.

He still takes his boat out every second week and wants to send the message that the water is still an enjoyable place to visit.

Seeing it in dry times helps you appreciate beauty of the land when it's full, he said.

"The saddest part is the people suffer when we have no water."

 

Mr Pollard said the unusual lack of rain this summer was a result of weather cycles, as well as living on one of the driest places on earth.

The drop in water levels was not a result of mismanagement, but did highlight a need to plan for the future.

 

MATTER OF TIME: Wayne Pollard has lived on the edge of Leslie Dam for 21 years and never seen it so low. But he believes the water will be back.
MATTER OF TIME: Wayne Pollard has lived on the edge of Leslie Dam for 21 years and never seen it so low. But he believes the water will be back. Elyse Wurm

Mr Pollard said he'd like to see pipelines run from the desalination plant at the Gold Coast to ensure a steady supply of water.

"I know it would be expensive but what could be more expensive than not feeding stock or crops?" he said.

"This isn't going to be the last drought.

"It's technology, just the same as telephones, and it'll provide jobs.

"If it did flood they could turn it off."

Mr Pollard said he thought about the need to take care of future generations, including his own grandchildren, when managing water security.

"I don't want them to be just existing," he said.

While the change from his house windows has been shocking, Mr Pollard is positive the tide will turn.

"The water will be back, there's no doubt about that," he said.



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