Water levels at Storm King Dam continue to plummet with no proper rainfall likely anytime soon.
Water levels at Storm King Dam continue to plummet with no proper rainfall likely anytime soon. Matthew Purcell

DRYING OUT: Stanthorpe could run out of water in 12 months

STORM KING Dam will run dry in 12 months if Stanthorpe does not receive significant rainfall.

The dam's water level is at 56 per cent capacity or 1230.2ML, with no rainfall forecast in the coming week, and less than average falls in the coming months.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said council was working closely with the Queensland Government on contingency plans and solutions to continue an urban water supply should the dam reach its dead storage levels.

 

RUNNING OUT: The stumps from the old bridge at the dam are visible for the first time in years.
RUNNING OUT: The stumps from the old bridge at the dam are visible for the first time in years. Matthew Purcell

"The Southern Downs and Granite Belt have suffered from severe droughts in the past, and historically Storm King Dam has filled very quickly when the dam's catchment area receives good rain," she said.

"I would also like to stress that the 12-month prediction is based on receiving no decent rainfall, current evaporation levels and compliance with current water restrictions.

"Unfortunately, we can't make it rain, so we all need to be aware of how much water we are using and how we are conserving water."

Since November 1, 2018, the Granite Belt has been under high level water restrictions with a daily consumption target of 170L per person.

At the time, Storm King Dam was at 70 per cent capacity.

 

DRY: The jetty at Storm King Dam is completely out of water.
DRY: The jetty at Storm King Dam is completely out of water. Matthew Purcell

A SDRC spokesperson said residents were not meeting their consumption target.

"Council has sent letters to specific residents advising them when they have used water outside of the permitted uses under current water restrictions," they said.

Mayor Dobie said council was not looking at extreme level restrictions which would reduce the daily target to 140L per person and ban use of hand-held hoses.

"SDRC is currently focused on educating the community about how to conserve water rather than enforcing high level water restrictions with fines," she said.

"However, if and when the region needs to move to extreme water restrictions, Council may then be required to review its compliance strategy."

SDRC uses a Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy model to predict dam water levels on a monthly basis, taking into consideration rates of evaporation, water seeping into the soil and no inflow of rain or water diverting into the dam.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, there is a very high chance at least 150mm will fall in the region between January and March, but the median rainfall of 291mm is unlikely.

SDRC's model does not take BoM's predicted rainfall into consideration when calculating the dam's levels.

SDRC will host Q&A sessions in the near future around water security.

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