Urannah on track for central Qld

Dam nation: Urannah on track for central Qld

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Queensland's proposed $2.9 billion Urannah Dam remains on track, gaining more momentum during 2020.

Queensland's proposed $2.9 billion Urannah Dam remains on track, gaining more momentum during 2020.

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Dams again proved a hot topic in Queensland during 2020, with the proposed Urannah project standing out above the rest.

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QUEENSLAND's proposed $2.9 billion Urannah Dam gained more momentum during 2020, declared a coordinated project by Queensland's Coordinator-General and gaining increased support from the Federal Government.

The 1.5 million megalitre dam project is currently subject to an impact assessment process, to determine any significant environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts it may have on the region.

The massive project also includes: Urannah Water Scheme, Collinsville Irrigation Scheme and the Bowen Renewable Energy Hub.

Project proponent Bowen River Utilities managing director John Cotter said the coordinated project status reinforced the strategic significance of the project.

"Urannah doesn't just deliver water security, but invests in agriculture and energy to drive economic benefits in the regions at a time when they need it the most," Mr Cotter said.

Urannah doesn't just deliver water security, but invests in agriculture and energy to drive economic benefits in the regions. - John Cotter, Bowen River Utilities

Surveys work is underway across the Issac, Whitsunday and Mackay local government areas, including detailed soil sampling for project's 22,500 hectare agricultural precinct on the Bowen and Broken rivers near Collinsville.

"The numbers are in and the Urannah Water Scheme is the only project that stacks up to deliver food and green jobs for Collinsville," Mr Cotter said.

Paradise lost

Bundaberg district farmers watched on in dismay as the wall of Paradise Dam was lowered by 5.8m for safety and stability reasons, following a damning report that SunWater's key irrigation dam was at risk of failing.

That work will see the original 300,000 megalitre capacity of the storage reduced by 57 per cent.

Farmers say while community safety is paramount, they were concerned for the future of agriculture in the Bundaberg region.

Canegrowers Isis chairman Mark Mammino said it was a travesty to see the dam wall being lowered.

"We need the dam fixed," Mr Mammino said. "It needs to be remediated to its original capacity in the shortest amount of time possible. We need water security to continue the growth in agriculture."

Bradfield resurfaces

The elusive Bradfield scheme again resurfaced in 2020 - quietly submerging again following the October 31 state election.

The LNP launched its vision to water inland Queensland, unveiling its ambitious New Bradfield Scheme as a key part of the party's election campaign ahead of the October 31 state poll.

Then LNP Leader Deb Frecklington (now Shadow Minister for Dams after the election loss) said the scheme's massive 14,000 gigalitre water storage would result in a new food bowl bigger than Tasmania and provide hydroelectricity for 800,000 homes.

The LNP launched its ambitious New Bradfield Scheme as a key part of the party's election campaign ahead of the October 31 state poll.

The LNP launched its ambitious New Bradfield Scheme as a key part of the party's election campaign ahead of the October 31 state poll.

Not to be outdone, Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced pre-election that an independent panel would conduct a comprehensive analysis of Bradfield and other water projects.

Chaired by Professor Ross Garnaut, the panel would also include include Queensland Farmers Federation chief executive officer Dr Georgina Davis and James Cook University Professor Allan Dale.

The panel's job was to assess the financial, economic, environmental, social and technical viability of a Bradfield Scheme, or "Bradfield like" concepts, as well as make recommendations for any further assessment.

The original Bradfield Scheme concept was devised by engineer Dr John Bradfield in the 1930s. The oft-revisited scheme involved using water from the Tully, Herbert, Burdekin, Clarke and Flinders rivers to create a reliable inland waterway.

Rookwood Weir

WORK on the long awaited Rookwood Weir Fitzroy River, 66km south west of Rockhampton, continued to grind on.

Scheduled to be completed in 2023, The Palaszczuk boldly announced in August that about half of the water would be allocated to farmers. What remained in question was whether the initially announced 76,000ML storage had been downsized to 50,000ML.

Emu Swamp

One project that remains on track is the 12,000ML Emu Swamp Dam on the Severn River near Stanthorpe.

The $84 million project is being funded by primarily with federal funds and local irrigators, who have committed to share construction costs as well as pay ongoing water charges.

Federal Water Minister David Littleproud stated the obvious: "More government to government cooperation is needed on water infrastructure."

MORE READING: 'Rookwood Weir: 30,000 megalitres of water for agricultural use'.

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