FUNDING for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline has been locked in, a project designed to provide long term water security for the Southern Downs and several Toowoomba communities.
Announcing more than $300 million for water security and regional development after hosting a community cabinet meeting in Stanthorpe, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the pre-construction phase could start within the next few months
The project is set to deliver a reliable drought contingency supply for the Southern Downs communities of Warwick, Allora, Killarney, Yangan and Stanthorpe and provide a permanent water supply to Toowoomba's Nobby, Clifton, Greenmount and Cambooya communities.
The 108km pipeline will carry water from Wivenhoe Dam and connect with Toowoomba Regional Council's existing water infrastructure, delivering water to Warwick and Toowoomba's satellite communities along the way.
The proposed completion date is mid-2026, subject to consultation with the councils.
"During the drought we invested $15 million to cart water from Connolly Dam near Warwick, and $19 million for a drought resilience package," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"Thankfully the rains came, but drought can return.
"Construction of the pipeline will deliver approximately 420 jobs to the local communities, as well as long-term water security, which is critical to jobs, economic growth and liveability of Queensland communities."
Toowoomba Regional Council mayor Paul Antonio said he wasn't aware of the pipeline funding announcement until he received a call that morning from the water minister.
"In all discussions to date, we've made it clear that we're not only concerned about our water security now, but our future water security and the impact this will have on our water infrastructure," Cr Antonio said.
"We need to protect our water future and to make sure this pipeline won't come at the cost of our ratepayers.
"While we understand the needs of Southern Downs and are sympathetic to their situation, our priority is our region and our residents.
"We need to do what's best for our community.
"At this stage we're unclear of how this pipeline will work so it's important we have the necessary conversations before we commit to the project.
"In saying this, from the information we've seen, I'm pleased our southern townships have been included in the proposed line and the focus from the State Government on water security."
Water Minister Glenn Butcher said Toowoomba residents could be confident the pipeline would not impact their existing water supply, while providing drought resilience to surrounding communities.
He said recent projections provided to Southern Downs Regional Council indicated that without further inflows Leslie Dam would be depleted by August/September 2026.
"While the dams are currently in a better state after recent rain, we know it doesn't take long for supplies to deplete, particularly due to evaporation during long dry periods," Mr Butcher said.
"Having seen this region during the worst of the drought, spoken with the mayors and local irrigators and community members, I know how important the issue of water security is to them and I really understand this as a regional member myself.
"Water is so vital to regional communities and regional development and this government understands that."
The Palaszczuk Government previously provided $19.34 million for the Southern Downs Drought Resilience Package, which contained measures to deliver a reliable drought contingency water supply for the region.
This included the installation of new pumps at Leslie Dam as well as investigative works into the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline, new groundwater bores, and upgrades to water treatment systems.
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