Mount Isa Mayor Danielle Slade says local councils are working on a strategy with the Queensland Government to look at an avenue to give them more ownership of water resources.
"I can confirm that this proposal has been in the works for over two years. At the moment the details of the strategy are confidential, as there are a number of key stakeholders involved," Cr Slade said.
"Mount Isa City Council has been involved in the process and, due to the confidential nature of this proposal, we are not ready to roll out the proposal to the community at this stage.
"As soon as the final proposal has been completed Robbie Katter and Bob Katter will be briefed, as we see them playing an important role in advocating for this initiative."
Council met with state Member for Traeger Robbie Katter recently about his concerns regarding water in the community.
"We are grateful that he has thrown his support behind investigating new opportunities with our water supply," Cr Slade said.
"Both the Mount Isa Water Board and Mount Isa City Council have kept the relevant Minister of Water in the loop, and have been working with key stakeholders to ensure a holistic strategy to take to the State Government for consideration."
The meeting came after Robbie Katter wrote to Queensland's Water Minister to discuss a potential new strategy to improve water reliability and affordability for people in North West Queensland.
Mr Katter said a strategy proposed by the Queensland Government-owned Mount Isa Water Board, intended to combine the region's water assets and amalgamate into one body, creating potential to provide more reliable water supply and bring down exorbitant costs.
Mr Katter said Mount Isa residents and businesses have been plagued by astronomical water prices for decades, exacerbated when Mount Isa City Council replaced its quota system with a user pays system three years ago, forcing people to turn off the tap and diminish the city's image.
"Of major concern right now is the lack of green grass in the general town area and beyond as residents and businesses have stopped watering," Mr Katter said.
"This is having a really detrimental effect on Mount Isa's appearance, which has negative flow-on impacts on people's businesses, livelihoods and general quality of life."
Council introduced a new user pays system in 2018 which charged residents a base charge for access to water as well as a consumption charge.
Mr Katter said high water use and pricing were of particular concern in Mount Isa where official guidelines to mitigate the risks of lead associated with the local mines, as well as general dust pollution, included frequent wet-mopping and hand-washing.
He wants the Mount Isa region to take control of its water assets through a locally-owned authority, facilitated through anticipated key support from Mount Isa Mines, which built crucial water source Lake Moondarra and partially funded Lake Julius.
"I am confident the Mines would support an initiative to create more autonomy for the use and pricing of water out of both lakes," Mr Katter said.
He said Mount Isa Water Board made an after-tax profit of $5.15 million for 2019-2020 while customers could barely manage to keep their lawns green and were repeatedly slapped with crippling bills, some reaching five figures.
In March this year, Mr Katter used Parliament to ask the Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water Glenn Butcher what financial dividends the State Government through the Mount Isa Water Board had returned to residents (via Mount Isa City Council) over the past decade.
The Minister replied the dividends paid to Council each year varied between about $770,000 and $5 million.
Mr Katter said regardless of the exact figures, and the wide fluctuations between them, there was an unacceptable lack of transparency on all transactions.
"The reality remains that, with the existence of Lakes Julius and Moondarra, Mount Isa residents are paying chronically high water access charges that prohibit many aspects of their day to day life and they deserve a fair go," he said.
"I look forward to discussing the new water affordability strategy with the Water Minister and fighting hard for a solution for the people of Mount Isa."
A spokesperson for the Minister for Water Glenn Butcher said the Minister had spoken with the Mayor of Mount Isa and Robbie Katter in relation to the proposal and the business case currently being prepared by Council.
"As the Minister has said previously, he is always happy to have a conversation about projects and ideas that seek to improve water security in Queensland and deliver improved outcomes for Queensland communities," the spokesperson said.
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