Rockhampton Council endorses Mount Morgan pipeline, as trucking costs hit $4.5m

Updated March 16 2022 - 12:29am, first published March 11 2022 - 6:00am
Delivering water to the rural town of Mount Morgan has cost the Rockhampton Regional Council and State Government around $4.5 million since April 2021. Photo RRC

The Rockhampton Regional Council has taken a major step towards securing a permanent water solution for Mount Morgan, following a report presented at the council's meeting early this week.

A Preliminary Evaluation, completed by AECOM, was presented to Council on March 8 as the first part of the business case that is being developed to address Mount Morgan's long term water security.

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Rockhampton Mayor Tony Williams said AECOM undertook a comprehensive options analysis and modelling activities as part of this, with a potable water pipeline being the recommended option.

"The preliminary evaluation recommended a pipeline as the most viable solution to ensure water security for the Mount Morgan Community," Mayor Williams said.

"A number of options were assessed as part of this process and the outcome was that the best, most economic option is for a potable water pipeline with a connection at Gracemere."

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Mayor Williams said the Council understands the need for reliable water security, but said the process of developing and planning for a pipeline takes time.

"We need to go through this process so we can partner with other levels of Government in the future to gives us a better chance of receiving funding and the pipeline becoming a reality," he said.

"We are doing this Preliminary Evaluation and subsequent Business Case because it is in line with the Queensland Treasury's Project Assessment Framework - which is the key to justifying the project and seeking funding support from all levels of Government.

"The Mount Morgan community have been battling a drought for far too long, and we want to make sure this is done the right way so they never, ever have to experience this again."

$40 million to build pipeline

This month marks one year since the Mount Morgan community have been in Level 6 (emergency supply) restrictions.

In 2021, the Mount Morgan Water Treatment Plant received 20 tanker loads per day, supplyin at least 0.5 ML or 160 litres of water per person each day. Picture: RRC

Water and Environmental Sustainability Councillor Donna Kirkland said that Council is seeking support from other levels of government for the costs of water cartage and the next stages of the project.

"Council has already spent millions of dollars trucking water to Mount Morgan just so residents can turn on their taps," Cr Kirkland said.

"While the state government hasn't provided any support for this so far, they have committed to looking at the situation again once the wet season is over."

Cr Kirkland said the Council have endorsed an advocacy priority to seek $3.5 million for a business case and detailed design to get the pipeline project off the ground.

"The current estimate for the construction of a pipeline to Mount Morgan has been estimated at approximately $40 million, and we will be firming up costs through the business case and detailed design stages", she said.

"During this time, we have continued to cart water from Gracemere to Mount Morgan, which has cost Council around $4.5 million so far.

"We know that carting water is not a sustainable long term solution, both for Mount Morgan and the ratepayers of the Rockhampton Region, which is why we are committed to finding a solution for the community of Mount Morgan that will continue to provide for many years to come."

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Business case underway

Divisional Councillor Cherie Rutherford said the endorsement was another important step in the journey for a long term solution.

"The people of Mount Morgan have been through so much and we truly appreciate their patience while we work through this process together," Cr Rutherford said.

"It is a credit to the Mount Morgan community how well they have done in the face of strict water restrictions. We know this is difficult, but it is so important that everyone comes together and this great work continues to conserve that carted water supply.

"The next step for the long-term solution is the business case. Council has committed $300,000 towards this already and we are seeking $500,000 from other levels of Government to complete this work.

"From there, we estimate it will be another $3 million on top of that to get the detailed design done and this will give us the most complete picture of what the project will cost and how it will be delivered."

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