Projects to get more water to farmers and horticulturalists in the north and create more jobs in agriculture will be investigated thanks to an investment from the Morrison Joyce Coalition Government.
The Liberal and Nationals Government is investing $6.9 million to take a critical first step towards bringing more water supply and security in northern Queensland, by funding detailed business cases for two new water infrastructure projects.
Through the National Water Grid Fund, the Government will fully fund investigations into the future construction of a new pipeline from the Burdekin River to Bowen, and new or upgraded infrastructure for the Burdekin Haughton Water Supply Scheme.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the business cases are an essential early step towards securing the reliable water northern Queensland farmers need to expand and prosper.
“North Queensland’s agricultural and primary industries are critical to the region’s workforce, economy and getting Aussie-grown favourites on dinner tables,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Water supply and security plays a core role in the prosperity of these industries, which is why we’ve committed $6.9 million to deliver the planning needed to identify the right water infrastructure options for the region.
“$5 million of this will underpin a detailed investigation into the delivery of a 105-kilometre underground pipeline from the Burdekin River to Bowen, which could distribute up to 100 gigalitres to agricultural and primary industry customers every year.
“This is enough water to irrigate up to 40,000 hectares of additional land, underpinning the growth of these vital industries and providing more opportunities in the region.”
Bowen Pipeline Company directors Sean and Kathryn Brown welcomed the vote of confidence in the project’s potential.
“This is a concept that has been discussed since construction of the Burdekin Falls Dam 40 years ago and, given the enormous opportunity open to horticulture, agriculture and aquaculture, and the need for a reliable and secure source of water, now is the time to make it happen for the communities of the Bowen region,” Mr Brown said.
“We extend our greatest thanks to the Deputy Prime Minister and Mr Christensen for today’s announcement, and the contribution it will make to our aim of turning soil in 2023.”
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the remaining $1.9 million will deliver the detailed business case required for the Burdekin Haughton Water Supply Scheme Modernisation project.
“This business case will consider the viability of new or upgraded infrastructure in the scheme, which will have the potential to recover 15 to 20 gigalitres of additional water that can be allocated to local growers and farmers who can put it to great use,” Mr Christensen said.
“It could also reduce the inflows to the groundwater table by up to 3,000 megalitres a year, better protecting the quality of that precious natural resource.
“The Burdekin Haughton scheme already supplies water for irrigation customers in the lower Burdekin region, backing local businesses and farmers including those producing our famous mangoes and sugar cane.
“Abundant, reliable water makes our region tick, which is why we’re work to put in place the water infrastructure that will allow our farmers and businesses to grow into the future.”
By investing in 70 construction projects and more than 60 business cases, the Australian Government’s $3.5 billion National Water Grid Fund is paving the way to national water security, while promoting local economic activity and job creation.