Both ‘dependent’ on river: Councils come together
NORTH Burnett's mayor has indicated her council will forge a closer working relationship with Bundaberg Regional Council regarding water security.
This is to ensure the councils are not caught off guard again like they were with Paradise Dam.
"I think 2013 (during the floods) was a big wake-up call to Bundaberg in how they join the North Burnett with the river," Mayor Rachel Chambers said.
"No one doubts they are on the receiving end of the Burnett River, so it's very easy to get their attention.
"(We need) a water solution storage for both of us because we are so dependent on the river."
Cr Chambers said the "best way moving forward is if we (North Burnett, South Burnett and Bundaberg) became one big voice of the Burnett".
She said a meeting between Bundaberg and North Burnett councillors, and a representative of South Burnett Regional Council, Mayor Keith Campbell, which was held at Paradise Dam on October 3 was about making this point.
"We're all joined together. I think too much emphasis has been on local government boundaries," Cr Chambers said.
"Water knows no boundaries, it runs from the top to the bottom."
Cr Chambers was recently successful in securing a Sunwater consultation for the North Burnett, the first held in the region.
"The issue has been Paradise was built for Bundaberg," she said.
"Because it was built for Bundaberg, Bundaberg is getting a lot of the limelight with this.
"What people have forgotten is that even though Paradise was built for water security for Bundaberg, it actually gave us security in that we used to have to release from Wuruma Dam (between Eidsvold and Monto) to supply Bundaberg, but we don't have to do that anymore.
"The 105,000ML released, that was for the future industries of Bundaberg, and Bundaberg should be fighting hard and we will fight alongside Bundaberg, but ... people have forgotten about the immediate effects on North Burnett."
One of these effects has been the stranding of two council assets, Paradise Dam Recreation and Caravan Park, and Mingo Crossing Caravan and Recreation Park, due to lowering water levels.
Cr Chambers said the cash-strapped council would have to spend money relocating pipes and pumps, and possibly extending boat ramps.
She said she "fully expects" Sunwater to come to the party in terms of reimbursing these costs.
She also revealed that a community reference group being formed by Sunwater had been expanded to about 15.
Originally, the only North Burnett representation on this group would have been Cr Chambers and one other councillor, but after intense lobbying, it was decided to allow more voices to be heard.
The appointment to the community reference group, which would help "inform" Sunwater's decisions, Cr Chambers said, would be for 12 months.