Australia Parents urged to keep children home as school runs out of water

08:10  11 december  2019
08:10  11 december  2019 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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a sign on the side of a road: Tamborine Mountain State School, where the school's water bore has run dry.© Supplied Tamborine Mountain State School, where the school's water bore has run dry.

A primary school in the Gold Coast hinterland ran out of water on Wednesday, with students given bottled water and supplies being trucked in to flush toilets.

Until Wednesday morning, Tamborine Mountain State School – Queensland's 2018 independent primary school of the year – relied on water from its own bore. But former P&C president Craig Peters said it had now run dry, as had a number of other bores on the mountain.

The bore at the town's high school ran dry earlier this year.

A number of other bores on Tamborine Mountain have also dried up.

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Now the town's residents are putting a case together to ask the Queensland government to declare a "water emergency" for Tamborine Mountain, Mr Peters said.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Grace Grace confirmed there was "limited water supply from the bore" and that students had been given bottled water, while three parents said the school's bore and drinking bubblers were dry and toilets were not flushing, and children had been given bottled water.

a group of people standing in the grass: Parents were asked not to bring students to Tamborine Mountain State School because the school bore has run out of water.© Facebook. Parents were asked not to bring students to Tamborine Mountain State School because the school bore has run out of water.

Parents at Wednesday morning's school assembly were told to "strongly consider" not bringing their students to school for the final two days, Mr Peters said.

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"The Education Department is now sending someone out there to check the bore," he said. "It has run dry, but officially the department can't say that until they send someone out to assess it."

He said the Education Department was trucking water up to the school so toilets could be flushed and children could wash their hands.

"I don't know if it has arrived yet, but we were at an awards ceremony there this morning when the school basically requested that we not send our kids for the next two days because of the water situation," he said.

"They said please consider – very, very seriously – not sending your kids."

Neither Tamborine Mountain nor Canungra to the south are linked to town water supplies, relying instead on rainwater tanks, bore water, or water from two private suppliers.

More than 7500 people live in Mount Tamborine and Canungra.

Mr Peters, who is also on the local Save Our Water action group, said 3 million litres were extracted each week from natural aquifers by commercial water companies and supplied to beverage manufacturers.

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He said the primary school was within a kilometre radius of where the three extractors operated, and that there was "massive concern" from residents over the operation.

The bore at Tamborine Mountain's high school ran dry earlier in 2019, he said.

Save Our Water has now employed a barrister to present its case to the Queensland government to ask that commercial water contracts from Tamborine Mountain be phased down.

"We are trying to work out a path to go to the Queensland government to have them declare a water emergency for the mountain," he said.

"That would then provide a trigger for the 'force majeure' [act of nature] clause that would be within the commercial suppliers' contracts and allow them to halt supply without suffering a financial penalty."

Concerns about the commercial extraction of water were confirmed by two other parents.

"The issue has been a thorn in locals' sides for quite some time, obviously," one parent said.

"We have watched the water dwindle; the creeks are dried up with this drought. We are in a sub-tropical rainforest here, but things are brittle and dry."

Mr Peters runs a domestic water supply company that supplies the Tamborine Mountain community.

Canungra recently ran out of water as Canungra Creek has been reduced to a series of waterholes, the ABC reported in late November.

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