HANDS OFF OUR WATER
By PETER CATON
AS Gold Coasters got their first taste of severe water restrictions yesterday, Tweed residents were being asked to dob in water bandits.
Tweed Shire Council fears pirate water carters will illegally tap into our supplies to make huge profits north of the border.
The council is so alarmed at the prospect it has called on Tweed residents to report the poachers, even though Clarrie Hall Dam is 98 per cent full.
And to pay for increased costs of policing Tweed water mains, the council is proposing to increase the charge for water carters legally exporting our "liquid gold".
At present carters are charged an an-nual $220 fee plus a fee per kilolitre which equates to about $30 for enough water to fill a Gold Coast swimming pool. But council staff say they are charging their Queensland clients up to $1000 for the water.
From yesterday south-east Queensland residents were told to cut consumption to 140 litres per person per day ? an average of 800 litres per household ? or fill out paperwork explaining their water use.
For filling pools and spas authorities have suggested they use tank water or source their supplies from areas such as the Tweed.
Tweed Shire Council's water manager David Oxenham said previous experience indicated the theft of water from Tweed hydrants "is going to be more prevalent now".
Mr Oxenham said licenced carters used standpipes which attach to the hydrants and have a distinctive Tweed Shire sticker on a meter.
"If anyone sees someone with a standpipe which isn't marked with a Tweed Shire sticker, they need to notify council," he said.
Mr Oxenham said legal carters presently paid a $1.14 per kilolitre for the water they took, 10cents above the fee charged to Tweed households.
The council administrators are to be asked next month to further increase the fees because of the extra costs of policing the system, which staff believe should not be met by Tweed ratepayers.
Water bandits can be reported to the council by phoning 02 66702400.