Better support for graziers, growers and manufacturers to drive economic growth and ensure local urban water supplies remain sustainable into the future is a step closer after the Palaszczuk Government kicked-off the Southern and Darling Downs Regional Water Assessment process.
The $3 million Southern and Darling Downs Regional Water Assessment will take a holistic approach towards water security and a long-term strategic plan for water management across the Southern Downs, Goondiwindi and Toowoomba regions, as well as parts of the Western Downs.
Minister for Water Glenn Butcher said the Queensland Government was delivering on its commitment to improve water security throughout the state. “We know that long-term water security and planning will be essential for regional Queenslanders as we continue to deliver our economic plan to build back from the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Butcher said.
“With the commencement of this Regional Water Assessment, we are keeping our promise to explore ways to unlock the economic potential of our regional areas. Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities said agriculture would continue to be an important economic driver in Queensland.
“Agriculture and primary production is a key pillar of Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan,” Mr Furner said.
“We moved quickly to declare agriculture an essential industry at the beginning of the pandemic, and it will continue to be at the forefront as we build an exciting economic future for Queensland.”
To kick-off the assessment the Southern and Darling Downs advisory group – including local council representatives, industry stakeholders and representatives from Sunwater – met for the first time last week.
Mr Butcher said the first meeting was productive with attendees engaged and positive about the opportunity.
“Water is the lifeblood of our regional communities so it’s crucial we get supply right and unlock the economic potential of Queensland’s food bowls,” he said.
“The advisory group is looking forward to identifying the opportunities that will best serve the Southern & Darling Downs region.
“Local expertise and experience will be essential to getting the right solutions for each region and we welcome local mayors, council representatives and leading industry bodies and thank them for engaging with us.”
“The program will build on previous studies to ensure we’re making the best use of our existing knowledge and efforts as we develop a comprehensive strategy to address future water supply needs.
“Next steps include engaging with stakeholders to identify the future water demands for the area as well as compiling a comprehensive list of all relevant previous investigations and projects in order to build on that knowledge.”
The Palaszczuk Government is investing $9 million in regional water assessments across three food bowls of Queensland – Southern & Darling Downs, Bundaberg and Burnett, and Tablelands.
Assessments for the Bundaberg and Burnett region and the Tablelands region will begin later in 2021.