Wivenhoe triathlon no-go

The future of a Lake Wivenhoe triathlon event supported and sponsored by Somerset Regional Council is uncertain due to 'onerous' approval constraints from Seqwater. Picture: FILE

Seqwater and Somerset Regional Council are seemingly at loggerheads over the establishment of a triathlon event at Lake Wivenhoe.

In October 2023, the council resolved to support and sponsor a triathlon event by Atlas Events Pty Ltd, currently scheduled for 12 and 13 October 2024.

SRC Corporate and Community Services director Daniel Rowe said Seqwater initially refused the open water swimming component of the event.

“It’s slightly disappointing, considering council’s trying to promote the use of those campground facilities,” Mr Rowe said.

“It’s quite important that open water swimming as part of a triathlon event is included.”

Mr Rowe’s report to council detailed the back-and-forth between SRC and Seqwater.

“Following further correspondence from council querying the decision due to the limited number of individuals (up to 400) participating in an event directly adjacent to a recognised Seqwater managed swimming location, council received conditional advice from Seqwater that the event may proceed,” the report said.

“The conditional approval of the event limited the event’s total capacity to 450 attendees (including participants, spectators and event staff), noting that there are only about 130 carparks available on site at the Logan Inlet Day Use Area.”

Mr Rowe said council officers further queried the capacity limitation, noting Seqwater did not consider nearby camping and accommodation facilities at Lumley Hill Campground and Captain Logan’s Camp Recreation Area.

“Seqwater confirmed that these facilities would not be taken into consideration when issuing the event permit,” Mr Rowe said.

“As officers now we’ve used all the avenues available to us, so should council wish they may choose to send correspondence to the ministers overseeing.”

In their ordinary meeting on 8 May, councillors agreed to write to Minister for Water Glenn Butcher and Deputy Premier Cameron Dick ‘regarding Seqwater’s inconsistent, incongruent and constrained approval of the triathlon event’.

Councillor Michael Bishop said Seqwater’s behaviour was ‘outrageous’.

“I cannot believe the behaviour and I really, strongly urge us to become political in this process,” he said.

“It’s obvious that council staff have tried and tried and tried every single bureaucratic and reasonable process.

“I’m very sorry that council staff had to experience this process.”

A Seqwater spokesperson said providing clean, safe drinking water was their fundamental principle.

“The protection of water quality at Wivenhoe Dam is particularly important, as it is the main drinking water source for southeast Queensland through the Mount Crosby Water Treatment Plants,” they said.

“Seqwater supported the cycling and running components of council’s event without hesitation but advised any swimming would need to be conducted within the designated swimming area at Logans Inlet.

“Our water quality specialists undertook a risk assessment and put conditions in place to protect water quality and site requirements.

“We know this event is important, which is why we have continued to work with council to get this event off the ground.”

Seqwater did not respond to questions about the 450 person capacity condition.

Deputy Mayor Helen Brieschke referred to historical events held at Lake Wivenhoe and other dams.

“We have always promoted events in and around the dams which have had very good success,” Cr Brieschke said.

“The open student days, a lot of schools from the bottom end have attended those days and I’m pretty sure there were more than 450 kids at those days, including spectators and staff.

“The requirements are onerous, and if you can’t swim in our dam then there is something seriously wrong.”