Mundubbera farmer Mark Postle sits where the Boyne River runs through his property at Glenrae North. He fears the worst for Mundubbera farmers and the people in the town as their water supply is set to be cut off. Picture: Lachie Millard
Mundubbera farmer Mark Postle sits where the Boyne River runs through his property at Glenrae North. He fears the worst for Mundubbera farmers and the people in the town as their water supply is set to be cut off. Picture: Lachie Millard

Enough to bring hardy farmers to tears

FARMERS are a hardy bunch, used to riding the rollercoaster of weather and markets.

But when they look at their paddocks and orchards and see the water they rely on about to dry up, and the multimillion-dollar government pipeline that could save them lying idle, it's more than they can stand.

In Mundubbera, in the Wide Bay-Burnett region, it's been enough to move growers to tears, breaking down in front of the government bureaucrats tasked with turning on and off their water from Boondooma Dam.

 

Mundubbera farmer Mark Postle sits where the Boyne River runs through his property at Glenrae North. He fears the worst for Mundubbera farmers and the people in the town as their water supply is set to be cut off. Picture: Lachie Millard
Mundubbera farmer Mark Postle sits where the Boyne River runs through his property at Glenrae North. He fears the worst for Mundubbera farmers and the people in the town as their water supply is set to be cut off. Picture: Lachie Millard


Drought isn't always red dust and bleached cattle skulls. And it doesn't have to be thousands of miles inland.

It can be far closer to southeast Queensland and looms over the Mundubbera farmers who rely on Boondooma and the Boyne River to carry its water to them.

The area grows produce worth $90 million to $100 million a year, and provides 900 jobs including 400 from the state's biggest blueberry farm.

The town of Mundubbera would be hit hard if the taps are turned off to protect the water supply for Tarong power station. Picture: Lachie Millard
The town of Mundubbera would be hit hard if the taps are turned off to protect the water supply for Tarong power station. Picture: Lachie Millard

 

When the dam level drops near 30 per cent, as it will in coming days following the failed wet season, the State Government will turn off the taps to protect the water supply for Tarong power station.

To most in southeast Queensland, the argument over where the water from one river goes might seem a long way from them.

But it is really an argument over two necessities of modern life - reliable power and reliable food.

That water helps grows the blueberries and citrus that are in your fridge, and the electricity to keep it cold.

Anyone who remembers Brisbane's rolling power shortages is not keen to repeat them, or to raise power bills already hammering families.

But the farmers say there's no risk of either thanks to the pipeline that could carry water from Wivenhoe to Tarong for a few extra cents on power bills, leaving them to use the Boondooma water for longer while they wait for rain.

All Minister Anthony Lynham - who they credit with getting the pipeline repaired and ready to carry water earlier this year after years lying broken - has to do is turn it on.

If there is a solution that protects power for the big city and keeps alive the industry and life of a small town, surely it needs to be taken.

Or at the very least there needs to be an absolute watertight argument presented for why not.

As one of the growers, Mark Postle said: "If there wasn't a pipeline we'd cop it on the chin.

"If you went up to anyone in Brisbane and said 'do you reckon the power station should take a bit of water from Wivenhoe and let the farmers stay alive?' I know what they'd all say."



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