SIGN OF THE TIMES: Baralaba residents are concerned with release from the Neville Hewitt Weir will impact the town's water supply. Picture supplied.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Baralaba residents are concerned with release from the Neville Hewitt Weir will impact the town's water supply. Picture supplied.

Irrigation off as hewitt weir water level falls

ROB Price is ready to rush in to battle a fire and save a Baralaba resident's house.

But he is worried the most crucial item in the Baralaba Fire Brigade's kit bag - water - may be missing if there is a house fire.

Mr Price was worried about the impact of recent water releases from the Neville Hewitt Weir which supplies the town.

“There's not enough water to fight a house fire - there's no pressure,” Mr Price said.

But he said the releases went beyond fire safety issues.

“It's not fair on the town.

“It's for a few farmers down the line but we all need water.”

Mr Price said the rapidly drying river had jeopardised the weekend fishing competition. He had to extend the boat ramp after water had fallen below the existing ramp.

The declining level meant only owners of small boats could attend the competition, as larger boats could not be launched.

It was also threatening fish in the river.

SunWater regional manager Nev Wogandt said they understood the impact the long-running drought was having on the region's water users.

Mr Wogandt said the weir was storing about 2750ml and over the past month. SunWater had released 1726ml to farmers and Duaringa.

Mr Wogandt said it was highly likely a further release from the weir may also be needed in the near future to give Duaringa a secure and reliable water supply.

“Under the Fitzroy Basin Resource Operation Plan we are required to provide water to our customers when it is available to them, especially for essential urban supplies,” Mr Wogandt said.

“SunWater has been faced with a number of difficulties recently as some of the pumps in place at the weir have not had full access to stored water due to extremely low levels brought on by drought.

“With regard to limited accessibility to the Baralaba boat ramp, this is unfortunately an impact associated with the long-term drought in the region.”

Mr Wogandt said SunWater was in constant contact with both Banana and Woorabinda councils and irrigators had strategies to ensure they had the best possible access to water.

SunWater advised all customers on September 18 that due to low water levels the forecast water allocation for the new water year (October 1), for all medium priority customers (farmers) would be 0% and high priority customers (towns) would be 39%.

Based on this advice to customers, the only water allowed to be taken from the weir as of October 1 is for town water supplies.

It is highly likely, given the low water levels, that this scheme will need to be operated under a Critical Water Sharing Arrangement which was designed to secure ongoing essential water supplies for townships.


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