Council and Industry meet with Deputy PM to discuss funding water security study

Representatives from Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC), Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprises (TSBE), Regional Development Australia Darling Downs and South West (RDA DDSW) and local industry have met with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to request $5 million to fund a regional water security feasibility study.

TRC Mayor Paul Antonio said water security is a national issue, and with Federal Government support, we can tackle this at a regional level

“The broader region of the Darling Downs and Northern New South Wales is suffering through lack of long-term water security options,” Mayor Antonio said.

“At the meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, we asked for $5 million in funding assistance from the Federal Government to initiate planning of long-term water security through a broad-based regional feasibility study.

“Improved water security would be a significant driver of regional growth and potential economic activity, particularly from private sector investment.

“Local government should not shoulder the full cost of regional development and the provision of long-term water infrastructure that helps develop local economies.

“We believe that further investment in water security by the Federal Government at a regional level is vital to seize the wealth of opportunity before us.

Mayor Antonio said that our Council had already been working with all levels of government to find regional solutions that address the national issue of water security.

“Regional water security would help realise substantial growth opportunities for the Darling Downs and Northern New South Wales through accelerated development in agriculture, value-added product, advanced manufacturing and alternative energy options.

Mayor Antonio said there are cross border issues with water that need to be addressed.

“We are working with local governments in Queensland and New South Wales to try and find solutions,” Mayor Antonio said.

“The vision is to formalise a water alliance which includes Councils from Queensland and northern New South Wales.

“I have gained the support of local Mayors, including the Mayor of Western Downs Cr Paul McVeigh, the Mayor of Southern Downs Cr Vic Pennisi, the Mayor of Goondiwindi Cr Lawrence Springborg and Mayor of Tenterfield Shire in New South Wales Cr Peter Petty to work together to pursue long-term water security.

“Consequently, the Mayors and I will meet on Thursday 26th November to agree on the process to form a regional Water Alliance.

“To assist the new body, we are seeking funding for a regional water options feasibility study that member local governments could progress.”

“Council believes that the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund provides the opportunity for a Darling Downs and Border Water Alliance to deliver this feasibility study.”

TRC Water and Waste Chair Cr Rebecca Vonhoff said our region’s economic development is directly linked to water security.

“There are currently many opinions from many clever people on how to proceed on future regional water security,” Cr Vonhoff said

“A robust independent analysis would provide evidence on the best way to take regional development to the next level.

“Industry has told us that the first question investors are asking is about water security, and the time is drawing nearer when we will struggle with the answer.

“Future development is currently constrained only by the availability of reliable and secure water resources.

“The planning and construction of new water resources is not only an economic issue but a matter of regional, state and national security.”

TSBE Chief Executive Officer Ali Davenport said water infrastructure is critical to future growth in this region.

“TSBE is involved in many conversations with investors and access to water is one of the earliest questions raised,” Ms Davenport said.

“Jobs and economic growth in this region will only occur once significant infrastructure is built, and that will require an initial investment in a full water analysis.”

RDA DDSW Chair, Fiona Gaske said water security in our region is vital to our future economic growth and investment attraction.

“It is crucial that an independent review of current water security solutions is conducted to ensure any further future funding has a maximum return on investments, Ms Gaske said.”

“RDA DDSW conducted a Strategic Regional Water Analysis in 2011. It is timely that potential solutions in the 2011 study be reviewed in light of new research, innovations and a changing landscape.

“We are looking forward to working collaboratively across State borders and with a broader group of Councils, business and industry.”

Caption: Damian Platts (TRC), Brian Pidgeon (TRC), Trudi Bartlett (RDA DDSW), Fiona Gaske (RDA DDSW), Deputy Prime Minister Hon Michael McCormack MP, Mayor Paul Antonio, Garth Hamilton (LNP Candidate for Groom), Cr Geoff McDonald (TRC), Cr Rebecca Vonhoff (TRC), Robert Kane (FKG), Hon Ian MacFarlane (TSBE), Ali Davenport (TSBE)

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