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Council to proceed with pipeline
by Cameron Outridge

Caloundra City Council last week adopted the motion to proceed with the controversial water pipeline project for Maleny.

Division One Cr Pauline Clayton said over eight years of research had been reviewed in coming to the decision to go ahead with the pipeline.

“Council’s duty of care is to provide a constant supply of treated water to our hospital, schools, businesses and those 780 residential properties connected to the water and sewerage system,’’ she said.

Cr Clayton said Council also needed to be able to supply an additional 1200 water/sewerage connections for Maleny which are written into the current planning scheme.

The decision comes despite State Government intervention late last year. At that time council was asked to further review its plan to proceed with the pipeline. Local Government Minister Nita Cunningham had acted on a petition signed by more than 2000 Maleny residents calling for the State Government subsidy to be withheld until an independent review of all options was conducted.

The options considered by Council were, in a nutshell, to raise the Obi Obi weirs or to construct a pipeline direct from Landershute treatment plant.

Last week’s decision drew an angry response from a frustrated Maleny Water Group and Citizens Advisory Group member Paul Gilmour-Walsh.

“Part of the problem is that in their mad rush Council has still only considered two options,’’ he said.

“Also that mad rush is based on the premise that we are running out of water and something needs to be done quickly. This is clearly not the case. Council bases all its urgency on predicted demand for water. But the predicted demand for 1999 has not been reached yet – and it’s 2003. Therefore the critical date of 2004 for a pipeline is not critical. There was no need for any great rush.

“A proper study can and should be conducted still within the framework of the City Wide Sustainable Integrated Water Plan which Council has adopted and approved for the whole of Caloundra City. Council is putting the cart before the horse by going ahead with the pipeline before going ahead with the full and proper study.

“Basically the material on which the decision was made is full of inconsistencies, and based on inadequate and inaccurate information,’’ he said.

“There is no new information to support the pipeline. The Council has ignored the community.’’

Opponents say pumping water back up the hill through a pipeline to Maleny is counter-productive. They say a study should explore the possibilities of making better use of water tanks and raising and de-silting the weirs which would take pressure off the Obi Obi.

Cr Clayton said water tanks were part of the solution, but were not the solution. “They run dry during drought,’’ she said. “Already more than 80 percent of Division One’s residents are on tank water only.”

And she argues the situation is critical.

“Maleny had been on water restrictions since October 2001 and carriers can only draw water from the main system off the range.

“There are about 780 sites currently connected to the Maleny water/sewerage system.

“Only 20 percent of these signed the petition managed by the Maleny Water Group requesting the Council do further studies into water management.”

Meanwhile independent town planner Paul Summers said the community at Boreen Point (on lake Cootharaba) faced similar issues concerning growth and infrastructure.

“The Boreen Point community does not want servicing (water, sewerage and kerb and channel). Why? Without town services many people choose not to be there. This helps the community maintain its character and its scale. These elements have been written into Noosa’s planning scheme,’’ he said.

“What must be realised is that there are no rights and no wrongs with these issues, there are only shades of grey. Our tendency is always to colour our thinking by what is happening now, rather then what might need to happen in the long-term. And sure it might have been dry for a while, but the rains came.

“The alternatives need to be measured against the relatively short and few periods where these things become a problem, before deciding.’’

Our thanks once again to Cameron & Tanya Outridge
of the Range News Newspaper for this story.