Toowoomba Regional Council, Media Release, 1 October 2021
The Southern Queensland Inland and New South Wales Border Regional Water Alliance (SQINB-RWA) has committed to advancing negotiations around planning for the area’s long-term water security.
Alliance chair and Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio hosted the meeting at Toowoomba City Hall that was attended by the Queensland Minister for Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water Glenn Butcher along with Mayor Vic Pennisi (Southern Downs Regional Council), Mayor Lawrence Springborg (Goondiwindi Regional Council), Mayor Tanya Milligan (Lockyer Valley Regional Council) and Mayor Peter Petty (Tenterfield Shire Council from New South Wales). Western Downs Regional Council Mayor Paul McVeigh was unable to attend.
Mayor Antonio thanked Minister Butcher for his attendance and said the Alliance would co-operate with the state government as it advanced its regional water assessment project. He said the Alliance would complement the state’s work to identify and evaluate the most viable future water supply options.
“The Alliance Mayors appreciated the chance to speak with the Minister and are heartened by his willingness to join our future discussion with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce at the earliest opportunity,” Mayor Antonio said.
“Cooperation between the three levels of government will be a key feature of finding solutions and identifying new water sources.
“Water is the number one priority for all the authorities represented on the Alliance and I’m pleased to note we have a shared focus around achieving a regional solution for our future water needs.
“Improved water security is imperative for our growing Region and the wider member Councils if we are to fully leverage the opportunities for growth and economic activity that are slated for this area, particularly from private sector investors.
“I’m positive that we can work with the State Government to clearly define the need for urgent action to address our situation, especially regarding projects that can identify net economic benefits for Queensland.
“As one of the most productive agricultural areas in Australia, and given our broad economic base, we have delivered consistent economic growth across the past decade and are planning for sustained growth into the future.
“Viable water supply options will ensure we can achieve these goals and keep contributing to the state and national economies.”
Mayor Antonio said everyone from householders to broad acre irrigators would need to ensure they used water as efficiently as possible.
“There will be opportunities for industry and agriculture to make greater use of treated wastewater, such as the project for the Lockyer Valley,” Mayor Antonio said.
“The Minister’s announcement about the expansion of the Building our Regions funding for water and sewerage infrastructure will be well received by all councils that are dealing with the challenges of renewing ageing water and sewer infrastructure.
“My Alliance colleague all agree that a new funding model for local government is needed to ensure we can keep servicing our growing communities with essential infrastructure that supports the lifestyle that our residents expect.”
The Mayors also expressed a desire for respective state governments to address broader cross-border issues that affect communities, irrespective of the state border or political allegiances.
Toowoomba Regional Council Water and Waste Committee chair Cr Rebecca Vonhoff, portfolio leader Cr Nancy Sommerfield and TSBE CEO Ali Davenport attended the meeting.