THINGS are looking up for the Lakeland Irrigation Area project after the Regional Development Australia Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Inc. (RDAFNQ&TS) recently announced that the proposed dam received a further $10 million in funding to proceed to Stage 2 courtesy of the Federal Government.
RDA FNQ&TS Chair David Kempton attended the Mareeba of Chamber and Commerce’s luncheon at the Mareeba Leagues Club last Thursday to provide community members with an update on the development’s proceedings, and noted what the funding would be utilised for.
“We had our Options Report completed and delivered to Government, and arising out of that the Deputy Prime Minister announced a further $10 million in funding to take it to Stage 2, which will include the pre-investigation around an Environmental Impact Statement, the community impact and associated infrastructure,” he said.
“That process will take about 18 months, and then from there the dam will go out to tender to design and construct.
“It’s a 200,000 mega litre dam that will yield 80,000 mega litres of water on a fairly secure year to year basis, and will irrigate into about 8-10,000 hectares of highly valuable horticultural and agricultural land.”
Mr Kempton noted that the total funding required for the cost of construction will be dependent on the next stage.
“That funding could come from a combination of commitments, such as the Federal Government’s Water Infrastructure Fund, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund and some input from growers,” he said.
“We’ll also be looking at the State Government for a contribution.”
In what would be the first major water infrastructure development in the region for decades, Mr Kempton alluded to the number of benefits the Lakeland Irrigation Area project will provide for Lakeland, Mareeba and its surrounding areas.
“We hope that the governments would have an appetite to develop the regions and have an understanding of how important water security is for this region specifically,” he said.
“In addition, the improvements to the structure of the access roads to Lakeland and further south to the ports should hopefully bolster the increased need for the movement of agricultural products.”
Mr Kempton said he hopes there are not any blockages to this project as it will act as a good example of the importance of water security and could ensure that the propensity to develop water infrastructure flows on to other regions.