Cloncurry is not currently at risk of running out of water, says Queensland Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle, but it’s council is planning for the worst.
The outback Queensland town of Cloncurry is planning to evacuate as a last resort amid the worsening drought, but the state government says water supplies are secure for now.
While water from Chinaman Creek Dam can no longer be used, Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle says two riverbed bores are operating well and water can be piped from Lake Julius Dam which is at 62 per cent capacity and increasing.
“Full marks to the Council for planning for the worst, but it is important to note the Cloncurry area is not currently at risk of running out of water, with sufficient water supply from Lake Julius.”
From Monday residents will be on severe level six water restrictions after two years with no significant rain.
Mayor Andrew Daniels says the next step will be moving to bore water, which will require people to boil water to drink.
“It (evacuation) is an extreme move. It’s the final straw. But people are really thinking about the dire position we’re in,” he told the ABC on Wednesday.
“It’s a scary thought but I’m hoping and praying that rain comes before we have to get to that.”
Mr Daniels said he’d recently spoken with federal government representatives who were drawing up a White Paper for the development of Australia’s north.
They’d asked for his thoughts on opportunities to build the economy in the north.
“I said to them … we’re not in a planning mode, we’re in a survival mode,” he said.
“There’s been no vision in the past to try and build another water source, so we don’t get into these sorts of situations.”
In 2008, the town was forced to bring water in by rail from Mt Isa, but that’s not an option amid the current drought.
Despite good recent falls in Mt Isa, local MP Robbie Katter said the mining city was also looking at evacuation as a worst case scenario.
He said local water supply at Lake Moondarra was just above 20 per cent and the weekend rain may have lifted that by 3 per cent, but that was nowhere near enough.
“We have to talk about the worst case scenarios,” had told The Courier-Mail.
Mr Daniels said the Cloncurry contributed much to government coffers through mining royalties, and the beef and transport industries and it was time for some that money to start flowing back to the community in the form of better infrastructure.
“Somewhere along the line, someone’s going to have to invest back in this area to make it sustainable and make it grow,” he said.