A secure water supply - Stanthorpe
It has long been recognised that a larger, more secure and reliable water supply for the town of Stanthorpe is necessary to ensure its future growth and stability.
Southern Downs Regional Council is currently pursuing better water options for residents of Stanthorpe as well as irrigators on the Granite Belt – work started 20 years ago by the former Stanthorpe Shire Council.
Why is it needed?
Stanthorpe, population 5,000, is situated at the top of the range, and is noted for its spectacular mountainous landscapes; however, these steep slopes make water capture and storage challenging.
The catchment areas are small compared to more gentle landscapes, and water moves quickly down the steep slopes in a rain event, rather than pooling in the area.
The town is currently serviced by Storm King Dam, built in1954, which has a capacity of 2180 Ml, and feeds 2470 properties in town.
When full, this is ample supply, however it lacks capacity to see the town through dry periods.
For example, in late 2007, after years of drought, Stanthorpe was left with just two months water supply from Storm King Dam.
There is also no large source of water for irrigators in the horticulture industry, other than several large private dams on individual properties.
Agriculture is still the dominant industry and employer in the area, with horticulture and orchards bringing in $150 million per annum.
It has been recognised that without secure water, the industry will find it hard to remain productive, compete nationally and grow in size.
What is the current situation?
A number of options have been investigated to provide better water security for Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt. These include options for a Stanthorpe urban water supply only, and options for both an urban and irrigation supply. Please see the Fact Sheets (right) for details.
In June 2011, Southern Downs Regional Council voted to continue to pursue the option of a combined urban and irrigation supply through the proposed Emu Swamp Dam.
Council is now commissioning a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Emu Swamp Dam proposal.