A new push to give the Park Ridge water tower a facelift generated a lot of interest in November when Councillor Heremaia toyed with the idea of painting it orange to reflect the neighbouring emergency services facility.
A lot of you showed up in agreement, suggesting some sort of mural reflecting either the area’s history, emergency service workers as a nod to their efforts in the pandemic, or local wildlife and nature.
With the tower back in the spotlight, it is the ideal time to revisit what made it so important to Park Ridge in the first place and to underscore why we need to preserve and boost its legacy.
Built in 1973, the tower was a key piece in the Browns Plains water reticulation project that enabled water to be pressurised and delivered to homes and businesses.
It meant the community finally had a reliable and permanent water source, eradicating the need to rely so heavily on bore water or shipped water from other areas.
But none of that would have happened so soon without a poultry producer, Ingham’s Chicken, who brought the demand for a more secure water source and took the case to council.
Park Ridge South resident Peter Smith was on the periphery of plans to get the water tower erected when he was an engineer at Ingham’s Chicken.
He recalls the drought that beset the region in the 1960s that threatened to cripple their production lines when their main water source – a dam behind the factory – began drying up.
“They were carting water from Half Moon Lagoon down at Browns Plains (sic) and then we got stopped from carting it from there,” says Mr Smith.
After that, they were left with no other option than to truck water in.
“We had a truck running from Acacia Ridge 24 hours a day, so that’s the only way we could keep the plant going otherwise they would have had to shut it down,” says Mr Smith.
This set the stage for the tower to be built in Park Ridge, piggybacking off the first major water infrastructure project in the region at Browns Plains in 1972.
Mr Smith says that without Ingham’s these developments and the urban growth we see today would not have happened so soon.
“That was the start of water around Park Ridge, that was the start of development around Park Ridge, we had no development before that and it just went from there,” says Mr Smith.
As the son of then Beaudesert Shire Councillor JJ Smith, Mr Smith was able to arrange interviews between Ingham’s head engineer and the council to start the planning process.
“I arranged an interview with him [Inghams’ head engineer] and dad, and he organised with Clem Jones to have a meeting in the hall, because Clem ruled the roost with the water,” Mr Smith says.
After many meetings, the idea for the tower was finally approved.
“Clem agreed to let them have the water and they had to put the pipeline from Sunnybank out to here, and then Beaudesert Shire they built the tower to get the water pressure,” says Mr Smith.
Aside from giving Ingham’s a greater sense of security, the new water system also boosted their production capacity.
“We went from 5,000 [chickens] a day to 38,000 and 40,000 a day over a period of time, all because of the water,” Mr Smith says.