A nearly empty Borumba Dam in November 2002.
A nearly empty Borumba Dam in November 2002.

Gympie water resources approach critical levels

GYMPIE region water supplies are rapidly approaching crisis point, with big reported drops in dam levels.

Seqwater figures show the Borumba Dam is dropping fast, from 72.2 per cent of capacity less than a month ago to 64.3 per cent now.

That followed another big drop, for 85.8 per cent in late October and 80.9 per cent on November 17.

At the current rate of consumption, the region is only one failed wet season, or even only about two months away from critical levels.

Borumba Dam, built as an irrigation storage, also provides much of Gympie’s dry weather urban supplies, as released water flows downstream past the city’s Jones Hill treatment plant.

The Mary Valley and Gympie region generally are now baking through our driest period since the Millennium Drought of last decade.

That drought prompted construction of the South East Queensland water grid, along with proposals to raise Borumba Dam and build a major dam across the Mary Valley at Traveston Crossing.

As the Mary River ran dry during that emergency, the then Cooloola Shire Council urgently obtained an emergency release of water from the Sunshine Coast’s Baroon Pocket Dam, much of which was absorbed by the dry river bed as it flowed downstream towards Gympie.

Baroon Pocket Dam, also in the Mary River catchment, gathers water for the Sunshine Coast from Obi Obi Creek, which joins the Mary River near Kenilworth.

The water grid also extracts Mary River water from Coles Crossing, where pumping facilities deliver it to the grid via the Lake Macdonald storage at Cooroy.

In dry times other than emergencies, much of the water flowing in the Mary River is the result of releases from Borumba Dam.

Water grid capacity is now running at 55.3 per cent, much less than the 60 per cent warning level which triggers official advice for people to save water where possible.

The water grid is currently holding 55.3 per cent of capacity.

The Seqwater website says this is about .5 per cent lower than at this time last year.