General News

10 March, 2024

Water set to go under the hammer

AN auction for 11,500 megalitres of water made available by $32.54 million Mareeba-Dimbulah water efficiency project will be held mid this year.

Water set to go under the hammer - feature photo

Thirty-eight per cent more water than expected will be available for Tablelands growers as part of the project which was delivered by Sunwater and involved replacing 14km of pipeline, installing 125 automated irrigation channel control gates and upgrading 157 water offtakes. 

The project was jointly funded by the Queensland ($20.94 million) and Australian Governments ($11.6 million).

The project’s infrastructure improvements mean the Mareeba-Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme is more responsive to water demands, reducing overflow losses and allowing for more controlled and regulated water delivery.

Queensland Water Minister Glenn Butcher says rigorous water validation assessments had confirmed at least 11,500 megalitres will be saved annually, far exceeding the project target of 8,306 megalitres.

A 30-business day public notice period required to finalise the savings has been completed, and it is expected an auction for the new water allocations will be held in mid-2024.

The new water available for sale will be the first new water available for permanent purchase in the supply scheme since the 1990s.

“This project is a win for Tablelands growers, a win for the local economy and a win for the environment,” Mr Butcher said.

“The additional 11,500 megalitres of water will support the wide variety of crops grown in the Tablelands, including bananas, mangoes, avocados, coffee, tea trees and vegetables.

“Our $20 million investment in this project is part of this government’s record $5.8 billion investment in water infrastructure since 2015 which has created 3,550 jobs across the state.”

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said more water meant more jobs.

“The Mareeba region is an important food bowl, and it is great to see this local project delivering local benefits,’ she said.

FNQ Growers president Joe Moro welcomed the news that the water “saved” through the efficiency project would be coming up for sale.

“The Tablelands is one of our country’s most important food bowls and with more water, we can feed more people with our delicious produce,” he said.

“This additional water is a long time coming and I’m pleased to see more water will be available for Tablelands growers.

“So many Tableland’s jobs depend on water and I’m pleased to see more water available for more produce and more jobs.”

Sunwater CEO Glenn Stockton said the “complex modernisation project” would now boost water reliability and service delivery to customers across the Mareeba-Dimbulah region.

“The new automated channel gates measure and regulate water flow, which improve the supply scheme’s ability to meet grower demand, as well as make more water available,” he said.


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