Water win: Coast earmarked for next major dam
SOUTHEAST Queensland's next new bulk water source has been earmarked to be built on the Sunshine Coast, to supply the region's booming population and drought-proof its future.
After failed wet seasons in 2015-2017, the region's largest dam, Baroon Pocket, dropped to a record low of 45 per cent capacity on two separate occasions.
Seqwater CEO Neil Brennan said their modelling showed the next major dam or water source would have to be built on the Coast.
"Our planning is showing that the next new bulk water source for SEQ will need to be constructed on the Sunshine Coast because of the population growth and the small size of local dams," Mr Brennan said.
"Local Sunshine Coast dams only make up about five per cent of the overall water grid capacity.
"While Sunshine Coast dams are quite healthy at the moment, recent history has shown how quickly things can change.
"The good news is that we have time to plan and time to engage with the community."
Mr Brennan said population growth and climate change had been identified as key challenges in planning for the region's future water needs, with the Coast's population set to almost double by 2040.
Investments made during the Millennium Drought meant Southeast Queensland could survive until closer to 2040 with its current water infrastructure, but the last five years had shown just how vulnerable Sunshine Coast supplies were.
Before any new infrastructure was delivered Mr Brennan said they had to make sure existing infrastructure use was maximised and industry and households were encouraged to be efficient in their water use.
"Emerging technology including new water supply and energy options in the future may also impact options for how we supply in the future," he said.
Currently employing more than 160 people in the northern region, Mr Brennan said Seqwater expected to make "significant investments" towards water supply infrastructure and water security for the Coast over the next 20 years.
"Ensuring we have a safe, reliable and sustainable water supply well into the future is critical to the ongoing prosperity of our region and we are working closely with our partners, including Unitywater, to make sure we get our planning right," he said.