JUST ADD WATER: Coalstoun Lakes Development Group chair Steve Marshall and member Gary Seabrook.
JUST ADD WATER: Coalstoun Lakes Development Group chair Steve Marshall and member Gary Seabrook.

Burnett pipe dream a step closer with new funding

THE chair of a North Burnett irrigation group said he was "very excited" by the Federal Government's announcement of $1.5 million for a feasibility study into a pipeline from Paradise Dam.

Coalstoun Lakes Development Group's 'Just Add Water' project would see a pipeline built from Paradise Dam to connect with the Tarong Pipeline via a pumped hydro energy storage station with up to 150GWh of storage capacity.

Aside from irrigating vast areas of the North Burnett, it would also allow Paradise Dam water to be used to supply Tarong Power Station, freeing up Boondooma Dam's supply for South Burnett irrigators.

In a statement, the group said it has recently had discussions with "all major political parties and levels of government" as well as key industry organisations such as Bega Cheese, which owns the Kingaroy-based Peanut Company of Australia.

They say they have received "unanimous" support for the project.

"Our hope is that this bipartisan and multilateral support can be formalised in the interest of delivering wide ranging socio-economic benefits to the Wide Bay region including those of (our group), the sugar industry, Boyne and Barker-Barambah irrigator groups and local servicing industries," group chair Steve Marshall said.

"I am very excited to have the additional funding essential to accelerate evaluation of the Coalstoun Lakes irrigation project and believe that the project can benefit all interests in the region."

The group's statement said they had been encouraged by advice from the State Government that any future reduction in the Paradise Dam level will not change the volume of water available from the Burnett River.

They note that their proposal includes a significant off-stream storage fed through flood harvesting and can potentially offset a Paradise Dam capacity reduction and support supply reliability in drought.

"In this way it may offer a potential solution to the Paradise Dam issue for downstream users," Mr Marshall said.

The group said it has been further buoyed by two recent changes in the regulatory landscape: the creation of the National Water Grid Authority and the $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

They said their project benefits both the water and energy security of the region.

The group has already produced its own study into their 'Just Add Water' project, titled A Structural Transition for a Regional Economy through Water Transfer and Hydro-storage.

It was written by Eaglehawk Consulting in 2018.

The $1.5 million Federal Government announcement was made on November 1.

The money will be provided from the National Water Infrastructure and Development Fund.

It is in addition to the $2 million Burnett water feasibility study announced in 2018.

A consultant was recently appointed to the latter study, Jacobs Group (Australia).


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