Why can’t we pump all this water south?

6 months ago
Water level

North and North West Queensland have been hit hard recently by floods. Townsville received their usual yearly average rainfall in a week.

When it’s so dry here in South East Queensland, a lot of people think there must be a way we can transport water from areas where there is too much to areas where there is too little.

Generally water is sourced and treated locally, as this is the most economical option, but South East Queensland can pump water to drier areas if needed. We call this the SEQ Water Grid. We can move treated water around the region using more than 600kms of pipelines. The grid is designed to move water from one part of the region to storage reservoirs in another to take pressure off local supplies during dry periods or transfer drinking water from one area to another when a local treatment plant is offline for maintenance. While we cannot supply all of the region’s water supply without local rainfall, the water grid can help move some water to drier parts of the region.

Pumping water from north to south Queensland would be similar to the grid but on a much bigger scale. At the moment, with the technology available to us, the costs of pumping and storing the water such long distances make such schemes uneconomic, compared to desalination and recycled water.

We will continue to monitor and investigate new transport and storage methods but for the moment, our plan for South East Queensland’s water future is to encourage everyone to be water efficient, wisely use the SEQ Water Grid and plan well for future infrastructure.