China company to give up Qld water share

A Chinese company has changed plans to take almost 100m litres of water from drought-hit Queensland.
A Chinese company has changed plans to take almost 100m litres of water from drought-hit Queensland.

A Chinese company with plans to take almost 100 million litres of water from a drought-ravaged area in Queensland says it will donate the water instead.

The owners of Cherrabah Resort, near the Queensland-NSW border, have approval to take and bottle 96 million litres of groundwater below the hotel.

The resort is surrounded by farming properties struggling to survive the drought in the Southern Downs region.

Its approval to extract water has led to backlash from the local community.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday said she didn't think it was appropriate to take the water during drought, and that she'd talk to the relevant minister.

The company, Joyful View Garden Real Estate Development Resort Co, has told the state government it will offer up its allocations.

"The government understands that the resort operator has committed to not start taking water for bottling during drought," acting Natural Resources Minister Mark Ryan said.

"They've also offered their allocation to local charities and local irrigators.

"(The department) has contacted the resort operator to support them in putting this commitment into action."

A state government water plan is in place at Cherrabah, which means officials know how much water is there and both farmers and companies can get state issued licences to extract it.

The Southern Downs regional council last month approved a development application at the hotel site, but told Joyful View it couldn't take water without fixing the surrounding roads first.

Some farmers and landholders are furious the extraction is being allowed to go ahead, at the same time residents have been limited to using 80 litres of water per person a day.

If the council wanted to step in, it could target business operations like bottling plants or heavy load vehicles on local roads.

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham could also declare an emergency under the Water Act, however that would mean no one - including farmers - can take any water.

Farmers in the Southern Downs are also understood to be selling water to bottling companies.

There is a different situation unfolding at Tamborine Mountain where local water is being bought by Coca-Cola Amatil among other commercial bottlers, but there is no water plan and therefore no regulation.

Multiple water mining operations are running there, and bores used by locals have run dry amid the drought.

Mr Lynham has previously said he is aware of community concerns about the impact of drought on water supplies there, but that his department is powerless to limit what's being sucked from below the ground.

Australian Associated Press