Mackay canegrowers take reins of water scheme

Around 300 Mackay canegrowers on the Eton Irrigation Scheme are now in charge of their own water.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said growers would decide from today when and how the water flows in their irrigation scheme’s 193 pipelines and six pump stations.

“The Queensland Government is also pumping in $13.9 million to the scheme to ensure the water keeps flowing for decades to come,” Ms Gilbert said.

“The scheme is being transferred to cooperative owned by local canegrowers, giving them control of the distribution of 51,900 megalitres to share among 300 irrigators.”

Eton Irrigation Cooperative Ltd Chair Lee Blackburn said the switch would pay dividends for both irrigators and the larger community.

“The opportunity to manage our own water and associated assets means Eton irrigators and cane growers are now ready for times of environmental, climatic or economic changes – safeguarding us and allowing us to focus on what’s best for our scheme,” Mr Blackburn said.

“It will also allow us to make changes as a group and will have positive flow on effects for the wider community.

“The switch means Eton’s irrigators will continue to work productively and sustainably into the future.”

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Eton Irrigation Scheme was the fourth and final group of farmers to take charge of their water scheme, following similar transfers at St George and Theodore in 2018 and Emerald in 2019.

“Across the state now around 700 irrigators have control of their water under Local Management Arrangements,” Dr Lynham said.

“More than 80 per cent of the customers voted in favour of transitioning to a local management arrangement that is why we have transferred it to the people who know and understand their water best.”

Nine Sunwater irrigation staff will transfer to the Eton Irrigation Scheme to work with the local community and industry and Sunwater will also provide bulk water from Kinchant dam for the scheme.

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