$ 300m a boost for NQ wa­ter re­sources

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JANE AR­MIT­STEAD

NORTH Queens­land could see greater ac­cess to wa­ter sources af­ter new fund­ing was an­nounced.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Agri­cul­tural Com­pet­i­tive­ness White Pa­per, re­leased on Satur­day, al­lo­cated a fur­ther $ 300 mil­lion to the Na­tional Wa­ter In­fra­struc­ture Fund.

The fund was es­tab­lished in the North­ern Aus­tralia White Pa­per with an ear­lier com­mit­ment of $ 200 mil­lion, with new funds tak­ing the to­tal to half a bil­lion dol­lars.

The pa­per’s fo­cus is on the de­vel­op­ment of vi­tal wa­ter stor­age projects in­clud­ing dam up­grades.

Re­gional lead­ers hope the Gov­ern­ment will pri­ori­tise projects that al­low in­creased ac­cess to the Bur­dekin River and Flin­ders River.

The pa­per iden­ti­fies po­ten­tial projects that in­cludes “aug­men­ta­tion” of the Bur­dekin Dam and the de­vel­op­ment of the Ord River ir­ri­ga­tion scheme in Western Aus­tralia and the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Char­ters Tow­ers Re­gional Coun­cil mayor Frank Bev­eridge said it strength­ened the fu­ture of wa­ter se­cu­rity in North Queens­land.

“North­ern Aus­tralia has got a lot of un­tapped wa­ter and it’s al­ready be­ing farmed pro­duc­tively, so it’s a mat­ter of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment putting money in the right ar­eas,” he said. “If we’re able to ex­pand our ac­cess to wa­ter along the Bur­dekin it would al­low more op­por­tu­ni­ties for our farm­ers and gra­ziers.”

Mr Bev­eridge said fund­ing should go to­wards build­ing two small weirs and the ex­pan­sion of wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion in the Up­per Bur­dekin.

He said in­creas­ing the size of the Bur­dekin Dam should also be con­sid­ered.

Townsville En­ter­prise chief ex­ec­u­tive Pa­tri­cia O’Cal­laghan said there should be a fo­cus on North Queens­land projects to boost the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try.

“We have been mak­ing clear rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment that the Bur­dekin River needs to be pri­ori­tised as a na­tion- build­ing pro­ject of sig­nif­i­cance in ad­di­tion to the op­por­tu­ni­ties with the Flin­ders and Gil­bert Rivers,” she said.

Frank Bev­eridge.

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