REVEALED: The project to secure water for our towns, farmers
LAST night the first milestone of the Burnett Water Feasibility Study was revealed at a community meeting.
The strategic and preliminary business case detailed a shortlist of the most promising infrastructure options to meet the regions water needs.
Representatives from consultants Jacobs Australia told the meeting while the regions’ strong agricultural background, good access to electricity, and potential for prosperous trade make a strong case for Government funding - reliable access to quality water is the biggest hurdle for investment in South Burnett.
According to project manager Matt Bradbury, Jacobs have identified three key water security issues for the region. These include:
- Security of urban water supply is poor and deteriorating, harming community welfare and limiting industrial expansion.
- Existing agricultural supplemented water allocations are highly unreliable resulting in reduced agriculture output, jobs, and investment. For example, Bjelke-Petersen damn is always running on empty.
- Large areas of fertile land have no access to a reliable source of water, hindering crop yields, value and diversity.
Urban water security has been identified as particularly problematic in Kingaroy, where both access to water and the quality of the water supply are not up to scratch.
With these challenges in mind, Jacobs have compiled a shortlist of the 10 most promising infrastructure projects, which have been designed to fix our water woes. These include:
1. Construct a re-regulating weir on the Barambah Creek. This will be called Barlil Weir;
2. Flood harvesting from Barambah Creek into Bjelke-Petersen Dam;
3. Convert Gordonbrook Dam to irrigation use;
4. Construct water recycling plant at Swickers facility in Kingaroy;
5. Tarong Power Station to source more of its water from Wivenhoe Dam (Keep Gordonbrook);
6. Tarong Power Station to source more of its water from Wivenhoe Dam (Convert Gordonbrook to irrigation);
7. Tarong Power Station to source more of its water from manufactured water products (Keep Gordonbrook);
8. Remove the 70,000ML cut-off rule in Boondooma dam;
9. Raise Boondooma Dam;
10. Greater utilisation of the Wivenhoe to Tarong pipeline (for Blackbutt irrigation).
South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto said that it is important to remember that this is just the first step in the $2 million study, which will span over a 25-year period.
“Tonight is about the release of the first milestone – the strategic business case,” Cr Otto said.
“This isn’t going to be a problem that’s solved in the next couple of years. This is a process that involves short, medium and long-term projects.”
With the strategic business plan completed, the next steps of the study will include the development of an economic roadmap, followed by an assessment of urban water strategies, Blackbutt irrigation, Gordonbrook damn, and a practical assessment of Balil weir.
“Everyone in this room is quite aware of the challenges facing our region. But moving forward, I can’t help but feel we have a significant opportunity to grow our region,” Cr Otto said.
“Particularly for the region to become a not a food-producing centre, but a food processing centre.
“There’s a lot of opportunities on our doorstep.”