WHERE TO NEXT?: Council has not ruled out introducing a water levy on residents as the regions water continues to dry up.
WHERE TO NEXT?: Council has not ruled out introducing a water levy on residents as the regions water continues to dry up. Matthew Purcell

Ratepayers could incur water levy

SOUTHERN Downs Regional Council has not ruled out imposing a water levy on the region's ratepayers as the drought situation gets more dire.

With Storm King Dam down to 31 per cent and residents still flouting the daily water restrictions, SDRC is assessing whether to introduce an "emergency water supply charge".

The issue was raised at the recent question and answer session with councillors, in which Mayor Tracy Dobie was quizzed about it.

The council says no decision has yet been made, as they ramp up emergency talks with the state government.

"SDRC will only impose the water levy to ratepayers if the state government doesn't provide financial support," a council spokesperson said.

"Emergency water supply charges will cover the cost of purchasing and transporting water to a water storage facility in the event that insufficient quantity exists at the facility to meet the supply needs of a water system.

"No date has been set for the commencement of a proposed emergency water supply charge. If introduced, the emergency water supply charge will be charged from the date council determines that an emergency water purchase and transportation is required until council determines that it is not.

"When required and the emergency water supply charge is levied, the charges will be applied to the rate notice due to be issued in April/May 2020.

"The utility charge to the ratepayer will vary depending on the location of their domestic and non-domestic properties and the number and size of the water connection/s (metered or not), and is in addition to water charges levied under clause 5.7.1."

The water levy could be a Queensland or Australian first, with the council confirming they weren't aware of another similar situation.

"We are not aware of another council who has charged a levy back to ratepayers," the spokesperson said.

The council used yesterday's monthly general meeting to discuss other water contingency plans.

According to the report prepared by council, Storm King Dam is expected to dry out by the start of December this year.

It also states that on average Stanthorpe residents are using 205 litres per person per day, not the 120 litres imposed as part of the extreme restrictions.

They've also flagged the possibility that the restrictions could be moved to "emergency level", which equates to 90 litres per person per day.

Those restrictions would also cut public access to standpipes.

Emergency restrictions could come into place as soon as late July.

The council has also engaged Bligh Tanner Consulting to develop a Water Security Strategy that will be delivered to Council by June 30.