Farmers need water supply for survival
COALSTOUN Lakes Development Group Inc members feel they have been overlooked after missing out on funding for a feasibility study for the provision of water for the valley.
Chairman Garry Seabrook said Coalstoun Lakes had farmers on the ground, with the best volcanic soil in Queensland, and many were third- or fourth-generation farming families.
“We only need to ‘just add water’,” he said.
Mr Seabrook said the project could significantly change the dynamics of the region’s productivity from a risky, dryland production-based system to an intensive production base for high-quality and high-value agricultural commodities, including horticulture and tree crops.
Mr Seabrook said the group’s proposal would create the need for value-adding activities within the region, with the flow-on effects providing employment growth and dramatically increased revenue for the regional economy.
The main project beneficiaries would include Gayndah and Biggenden and the wider regions of the North Burnett Regional Council area.
Mr Seabrook said the region’s produce would be targeted towards domestic and international markets, as well as adding about $20 million per annum (ex-farmgate) to the regional economy, not including value-adding activities.
“Locals are extremely frustrated and upset that in 1998 an application by canegrowers resulted in Paradise Dam being built in 2005, which was to provide irrigation water for Childers and Bundaberg,” he said.
“Still, 10 years later, there is 100,000 megalitres of water unsold in Paradise Dam, however. The growers have not utilised it for their purposes.
“Isis is now after more North Burnett water, with another application for 28,000 megalitres. Farmers in Gayndah, Childers and Bundaberg have access to irrigation schemes or licences to provide water.”
Fellow farmer Kerry Dove said the region had extremely fertile volcanic soils, which was proven by independent soil tests.
“The only product missing is water,” he said.
“How the Australian and Queensland governments can continue to overlook this potential food bowl of Australia is amazing.
“All politicians who visit the area comment on its potential to provide premium quality food.”
Mark Rackemann said they were all self-funded farmers and had the next generation willing to continue the tradition.
“With only two good seasons in the last 10, it is hard to see a future for farming under dryland conditions – especially if the climate is drying as predicted,” he said.