The Palaszczuk Government will kick in $13.6 million to kick off the Emu Swamp Dam on the Granite Belt.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the State had been listening to local farmers and irrigators on the Southern Downs while it carefully examined the project business case.
“The drought has been long and hard on our food and fibre producers and their local communities,” Dr Lynham said.
“My Department has been working closely with the proponent, Granite Belt Water, since the Emu Swamp Dam business case was completed several months ago.
“The State will now provide the $13.6 million conditional grant that Granite Belt Water has requested.
“Our concern has always been that local farmers and irrigators don’t end up facing considerably higher costs once there’s more work done on engineering, geological and environmental requirements.
“I am today calling on the Morrison Government, not local farmers, to pick up any cost over-runs on this project.
“Irrigators have committed to provide a contribution towards the construction of the dam as well as pay ongoing water charges that would cover operating and maintenance costs.
“Communities like Stanthorpe and Granite Belt growers don’t need to be saddled with the impact of dam cost over-runs or unexpected operating costs.
“My department’s water experts will also continue to provide technical advice and support to Granite Belt Water and local producers.”
The State Government’s funding conditions include:
- the proponent being able to secure access to sufficient water entitlements. This will involve discussions with local stakeholders and securing environmental approvals.
- appropriately qualified and expert engineers reviewing and endorsing the design of the dam and distribution network
- the Queensland Government having input into the choice of expert reviewers and the design and delivery process
- the proposed owner, Granite Belt Water, providing information about the ongoing viability of the proposal and the business to allow State Government to undertake due diligence assessments
- that if construction contracts cannot be signed for $84 million, the viability of the project will be reconsidered.
Dr Lynham will write to Granite Belt Water this month offering the conditional grant.
In the short term the Queensland Government is continuing to work closely with the Southern Downs Regional Council to support its ongoing efforts to ensure essential urban water supplies are maintained.
The Queensland Government already has provided almost $950,000 to Southern Downs Regional Council to investigate and upgrade existing water infrastructure and to investigate and construct potential new and rejuvenated groundwater bores and access to recycled water for industrial use.
The Emu Swamp Dam is an $84 million proposal to dam the Severn River and provide water to local farms via a 117-kilometre pipe network. The distribution network will include solar power generation and large‑scale battery storage to power the pumps.
The proposed 12,074 megalitre clay-core, rock-faced dam will provide up to 3900 ML of entitlements annually to irrigators.
The Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce developed a business case with the support of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.