Better facilities could unleash 'untapped potential' at dam
A PUSH to capitalise on "untapped potential” at Leslie Dam has been heralded as a way to draw more visitors to the Southern Downs.
Warwick resident and AG Licensing owner Andrew Gale, who runs boat licence training at the dam, is calling for facilities to be upgraded.
Mr Gale said he would like to see rubbish bins, picnic tables and toilets available closer to the shoreline.
Currently visitors must walk or drive 1km to the nearest toilet, he said.
"It's not a safe road to walk along, it's a skinny road with no footpath,” Mr Gale said.
"Probably 90percent go for a swim and go to the toilet (in the water).”
Mr Gale said while there were some picnic tables and toilets at the dam, they were not accessible to people using the site for water sports.
"The usage of the dam was different (when they were installed) - you had a lot of people come down and picnic there - but now we have huge numbers of people who are on the shoreline,” he said.
"There is dry area there that would never be inundated.”
Mr Gale said he knew of people from Warwick who travelled to Moogerah Dam, 77km away, as they believed the facilities were superior.
Work on the boat ramps at Leslie Dam were also necessary, as they were currently sitting well above the water level.
Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the council met with the Department of Transport and Main Roads roughly once a month and requested funding for ramps.
"We suggested it would be a really good time to do it because the water is low,” Cr Dobie said.
"It does provide access for recreational users to be able to access water when levels are low.”
Mr Gale believes developing facilities would help attract more people to the area.
"Leslie Dam has a lot of untapped economic potential ... it really is a jewel in the Southern Downs,” he said.
"I get people from everywhere to do their boat licences there.
"We constantly get told in business and agriculture that we need to diversify: There's more to the Southern Downs than Jumpers and Jazz and polocrosse.”
Sunwater claimed responsibility for providing and maintaining basic public recreation amenities near the dam wall.
A Sunwater spokeswoman said amenities had been installed in areas where changing water levels could not impact functionality.
"As these amenities are provided at no cost to the community, we work to find a balance between maintaining functional facilities and minimising the cost impact on our local irrigation and industry customers,” she said.
"Sunwater is always open to enabling discussions with Southern Downs Regional Council or any third parties to help facilitate the improvement ideas they are considering.”
But Mr Gale called upon the council economic development team to drive the upgrades and assess the value the dam offered.
"Considering they just spent $150,000 on a toilet block at Connolly Dam, where's the cost benefit for half a dozen camping sites compared to thousands of people who might be at Leslie Dam?” he asked.
Cr Dobie said when providing facilities, the return on investment needed to be considered.
"I think anything we can develop further we should look at, anything that could get more visitors to the region is always what council is looking at,” she said.