Dam figures raise questions

SunWater dam statistics questioned by Queensland LNP


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Dam statistics raise water use and power price concerns.

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LNP natural resources spokesman Dale Last questioned why the water was not being utilised by drought-affected farmers.

LNP natural resources spokesman Dale Last questioned why the water was not being utilised by drought-affected farmers.

Water desperately needed for irrigation is being left in dams because power prices make it too expensive to pump it out, the Queensland LNP says.

However, the state government says electricity price hikes are swallowed by utility company SunWater instead of being passed on to producers.

Water storage figures contained in SunWater's latest annual report showed Queensland's dams were at a combined capacity of 103 per cent last year, but only 55 per cent of this capacity was delivered.

Opposition natural resources spokesman Dale Last said it looked like water was languishing in dams instead of being put to a productive use.

"What's going on here? Why isn't our available water being used by drought-affected farmers and communities,” Mr Last said.

Opposition agriculture spokesman Tony Perrett said producers were hamstrung by rising power prices. 

"Farmers and irrigators can't afford to pump water under the Labor government's sky high power prices," he said.   

A SunWater spokesman said there were a number of factors explaining the gap between water entitlements and water deliveries.

"Water entitlements are significantly higher than water deliveries predominantly due to unsold water allocations, customers not utilising their full water entitlement in some schemes and provision for water losses and environmental releases across all schemes."

Electricity price hikes above inflation had so far been absorbed by SunWater instead of being passed on, the spokesman added.

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the state government would spend around $464 million in 2018 to subsidise power for regional Queenslanders.

"To assist farmers with their energy costs the government also has committed $10 million toward extending the successful Energy Savers Plus program.”

Avocado and macadamia farmer Joe Lyons is located about 25 kilometres west of Bundaberg and said he was pleased with water security in the region but would keep an eye on any future changes to water pricing. 

Queensland Farmers’ Federation spokesman Ian Johnson said there was no doubt power prices affected irrigators, but noted it was important to consider these impacts on a scheme-by-scheme basis.

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