Nullinga Dam site reserved for later

The Palaszczuk Government will protect the proposed Nullinga Dam site and pursue alternative water supply options for the Far North.

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today announced the release of the business case which says water would cost five to six times more than any prospective water users could pay.

“The State Government will pursue other water supply options to support development and jobs and lock down the dam site as a precautionary measure for the future,” Dr Lynham said.

“We’re doing our bit for FNQ.

“The Morrison Government have said they can fully fund this project and now there’s nothing stopping them.

Dr Lynham said the state government continued to support expansion of irrigated agriculture as an essential part of the Queensland economy.

“Sunwater is progressing the $28 million project to modernise the existing open channel irrigation scheme on the Tablelands, including with channel lining, new meters and better electronics,” he said.

“It’s forecast to save more than 8000 megalitres of water alone. That’s more water that farmers can actually afford for more crops.

“Sunwater and the Government will work with local irrigators to identify more affordable water projects like this to ensure industry can expand and create jobs.”

Dr Lynham said the Palaszczuk Government recognised that there might be strategic benefits for FNQ in preserving the site.

“The Co-ordinator General and the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy are working on the best way to do this now,” he said.

The State Government’s independent expert infrastructure advisor, Building Queensland, will today (Friday) publish the detailed business case funded by the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.


The Nullinga Dam proposal is to dam the Walsh River in Far North Queensland, about 55 km south-west of Cairns and 24 kilometres south-west of Mareeba.

Costed at up to $975 million, Nullinga Dam was first proposed in the 1950s, but Tinaroo Falls Dam was built as the more favourable option.

Building Queensland completed a preliminary business case last year and the latest detailed business case released today (Friday).

The business case identifies that:

  • Cairns Regional Council has plans in place to cover water supply for at least the next 40 years
  • water would cost upward from $15,900 per megalitre but customers only wanted to, and could, pay around $2000-$3000 per megalitre.
  • both the smaller and larger dam options considered “would result in poor economic returns and poor financial outcomes”

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