Future challenges for our water

AS THE curtain fell on a dry year, a Fraser Coast councillor has warned of new challenges for the region where water is concerned.

Julie Arthur, chair of the council’s water and sewerage infrastructure committee, believes State Government water reforms brought forward for south-east Queensland this year could reach up and take effect on the Fraser Coast within five years.

The key elements of the reforms affect the bulk supply and transport of water and will see the introduction of three combined retail/distribution entities that will own the water and sewerage distribution infrastructure.

These reforms are to be established by July 1 next year by councils in the Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Lockyer Valley regions.

The consolidation of ownership arrangements for water supply and sewerage is aimed at providing security of supply and improving financial capacity by bringing assets together.

“It’s a bit like the State Government’s decision to put fluoride in water. They are the over-arching arm and if that’s the decision they make, we’re at their mercy. Councils would be required to abide by that,” Ms Arthur said.

“I will be keeping a watching brief on how it is rolled out in south-east Queensland and what effect it has on local government there.

“I’ll be interacting with local governments to try and get a grasp. Hopefully they can give us an idea of what we might be facing.”

She said the fact that Wide Bay Water was the only corporation used by a Queensland council to operate its water was “greater reason” to keep watch.

“I believe – not so much in the next couple of years – but maybe in five years time, that has the possibility of impacting on parts to the north of the south-east corner.

“I think there are going to be bigger issues for state and local government in terms of controlling the supply of water from the resource, from our weirs, to the tap.

“I think there are going to be far bigger recording processes needed from councils up to State Government in terms of demand and supply issues.

“Where is it going to put us in the future? Who is going to be controlling our water supply? Will it be a local government responsibility? Will it be State Government responsibility?”

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