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The Mount Isa Water Board is progressing a study to bring reduced-cost solar pumping from Lake Julius in Queensland’s Gulf Country region, in what would be the state’s first solar powered water supply.

Queensland Minister for Biofuels, Energy and Water Supply, Mark Bailey, said the innovative project could see renewable energy being used to increase water supply security, while reducing operational costs.

“This project has the potential to reduce the substantial cost of pumping water from Lake Julius to Mount Isa’s water treatment plant, some 70km away,” Mr Bailey said.

A pre-feasibility study has been completed for the project, and it will soon progress to a concept design.

Mount Isa Water Board Chief Executive, Stephen Farrelly, said the pre-feasibility study undertaken in June 2016 found that the project is expected to be viable and would generate a net cost saving for customers.

“The project is still in its infancy and, as is appropriate for such a substantial investment, it will need to progress through a series of approvals before a final investment decision can be made,” Mr Farrelly said.

“We can see that if successful, it will have great benefits to our customers and the community.”

Mount Isa Mayor, Joyce McCulloch, said the study aligned with the council’s plans for exploring renewable energy projects for the future of Mount Isa.

“This project could bring so many benefits to Mount Isa,” Ms McCulloch said.

“There is the obvious water security and reduced costs of pumping from Lake Julius, but it would also mean greater year-round recreation access for Lake Moondarra if the region can use water from Julius for a similar cost.

“North West Queensland and Mount Isa have been identified as having one of the highest amounts of solar radiation per square metre, so it makes perfect sense for solar projects to be pursued.” 

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