Lake Clarendon is bone dry. Photo: Hugh Suffell.
Lake Clarendon is bone dry. Photo: Hugh Suffell.

All we want for Christmas is rain

DRIVING around the Lockyer Valley it is not hard to see that Queensland is still in the midst of a terrible drought.

Despite the odd thunderstorm and shower that has brought some rainfall to the region, farms are dry, lakes and dams are empty, and the grass is brown.

It will take months of heavy rainfall to fill the dams that will provide farmers the water they should normally have access to, and bring tourists back to our lakes.

Water security played a large role in the recent Queensland state election in the seat of Lockyer and will be one of the key focus points for the region in 2021.

The Gatton Star will keep you informed of all the major updates in regards to water and the next stages of the Lockyer Valley and Somerset Water Collaborative in the New Year.

For now, here is how our lakes and dams across the region look today.

Lake Clarendon Dam at Gatton was usually a popular overnight stop for campers and caravaners that would pass through the region. Today, not only is the car park empty, but so is the dam.

Lake Clarendon is bone dry. Photo: Hugh Suffell.
Lake Clarendon is bone dry. Photo: Hugh Suffell.

Behind the fence would usually be a moderately sized body of water that was a popular location for local residents and tourists to enjoy, but instead today it is a large empty field.

The campground at Lake Clarendon is not as popular as usual this holiday time. Photo: Hugh Suffell.
The campground at Lake Clarendon is not as popular as usual this holiday time. Photo: Hugh Suffell.

Recent rainfall has at the least brought some colour into the location, but it will take an enormous weather event to bring Lake Clarendon Dam back to a level in which it can once again be enjoyed for what it is there for.

Lake Clarendon Dam remains bone dry despite recent rainfall. Photo: Hugh Suffell
Lake Clarendon Dam remains bone dry despite recent rainfall. Photo: Hugh Suffell

SEQ Water also says fishing and paddling are permitted, highlighting how Lake Clarendon Dam can be a popular recreation point for tourists and locals when it has water.

SEQ Water sign saying Lake Clarendon Dam is closed, despite its website advertising the area for recreation. Photo: Hugh Suffell
SEQ Water sign saying Lake Clarendon Dam is closed, despite its website advertising the area for recreation. Photo: Hugh Suffell

Another popular location for locals and destination for tourists is Lake Apex, Gatton which houses many of the Lockyer Valley’s services including the local library, art gallery, museum, cultural centre and tourist visitor centre.

What would usually greet visitors to this location would be a large and scenic lake but instead all that is visible is another bone dry misery.

Lake Apex in Gatton would usually contain water. Photo: Hugh Suffell.
Lake Apex in Gatton would usually contain water. Photo: Hugh Suffell.

In response to locals concerns, the Lockyer Valley and Somerset Water Collaborative was established to ensure a path to water security in the region.

It’s vision is to “meet these challenges by bringing new sources of water to the Lockyer Valley” in order to allow the world-class production of produce to continue and grow whilst also supporting local business, industry and tourism.

Lake Dyer, Laidley currently sits at 2.9 per cent capacity. Photo: Hugh Suffell.
Lake Dyer, Laidley currently sits at 2.9 per cent capacity. Photo: Hugh Suffell.

The scheme aims to find ways in which water can be transferred from existing storage facilities nearby, including Wivenhoe Dam whilst also proposing the development of new storage facilities in the region.

Jim McDonald said voters overwhelmingly discussed the issue of water security with him during the lead-up to the state election and said following his victory he will sit down with the collaborative when their official report is released in the coming weeks and plans to review the best path forward for securing vital water for the Lockyer Valley.

"No swimming" sign at Lake Apex, Gatton highlighting how the area would usually be full of water. Photo: Hugh Suffell.

The ongoing drought is a grim reality that regional Australia continues to face and whilst the COVID-19 pandemic remains a major concern for many, communities like the Lockyer Valley are far more anxious about their access to fresh water.

It’s a depressing site to see lakes, dams and creeks like Lake Clarendon and Lake Apex in the Lockyer Valley be completely dry, and it is the case in many more regional communities.

Farmers and producers are calling out for help from governments and whilst the pandemic remains an important concern, regional communities want to know what is being done about the huge concern to them, that is the drought.



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