The development of a new masterplan will explore the recreational and tourism potential of the Ross River Dam and the surrounding area.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said the masterplan would enable Council to plan ahead and achieve a staged approach to opening the dam area for recreational use.
“Any plans to open the Ross River Dam for recreation need to be balanced very carefully with the ongoing water quality and treatment of our city’s main source of potable water,” Cr Hill said.
“We have a fantastic opportunity to improve and enhance the adventure tourism offerings within the Townsville region, providing a boost to our economy and attracting more people to the city.
“We know that opening the dam area is something the community wants to happen and we’re looking for safe ways and effective ways to achieve it.
“A masterplan will help us gauge what long-term investment is needed for our infrastructure to cope with the increased use of the dam, as well as what facilities are needed to accommodate any adventure and ecotourism offerings.”
The project has received $200,000 from the Australian Government through the North Queensland Recovery and Resilience Grants program to deliver the masterplan and subsequent water quality studies.
Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, said the $12 million Recovery and Resilience Grants (Stream 1) were provided to 58 projects across 14 Queensland local government areas hardest hit by the 2019 monsoon flood.
“This funding is part of the long-term recovery strategy. These grants are not only helping communities to recover from the devastating floods but also helping them to be better prepared for the economic impact of future natural disasters.
“The Australian Government is committed to further strengthening the resilience of the businesses, economies and communities of North Queensland.”
Deputy Mayor and Townsville City Council Planning and Development Committee chairperson Mark Molachino said opening the dam up to appropriate uses would contribute to the city’s enviable lifestyle.
“You only have to see how popular Ross River below the dam is for recreation and sporting activities to know that opening the dam for similar activities is the right thing to do,” Cr Molachino said.
“I passionately believe that we should open the dam and I look forward to the finalisation of this masterplan and then working with the community to implement the recommendations.”
Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said he looked forward to the community being able to use the dam.
“Being able to use the dam for recreational purposes is something that people raise with me on a regular basis, but we need to do the planning to ensure it’s done right, especially given it’s our source of drinking water,” Mr Thompson said.
“This funding will help deliver a long-term, 10-year plan that tells us what sort of facilities are needed and whether it can be done safely, to deliver the community and tourism benefit we want to see.”
The tender to deliver the masterplan has been awarded to Place Design Group.