Malanda Falls, Atherton, Tablelands, North Queensland Australia
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The Queensland Government’s Regional Water Assessment program, which aims to identify future water security solutions in key food bowls across the state, is moving forwards, with preliminary analysis and feedback already received.

Started in late 2021, the Regional Water Assessment involves councils, industry representatives, scientific experts and key stakeholders working together to develop a holistic approach to water security and economic growth across the regions.

Queensland Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher, said the Queensland Government is investing $9 million in regional water assessments.

The assessments will be across three food bowls of Queensland – Tablelands, the Southern and Darling Downs, and Bundaberg and Burnett.

Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui, said it was great to see the assessment progressing and the collaborative approach being taken by all involved.

“We’ve seen what investment in infrastructure upgrades can deliver, including through the completion earlier this year of the Mareeba Dimbulah Efficiency Improvement Project,” Ms Lui said.

It’s important also that we continue to plan for the future water needs of the region and that’s exactly what the Queensland Government is doing through the Regional Water Assessment Process.”

Assessments underway in Bundaberg and Burnett, the Southern and Darling Downs and Mareeba-Atherton Tablelands regions are being led by the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water.

Tablelands assessment moves to next stage

Important planning for the future water needs of the Tablelands region is continuing as the Regional Water Assessment progresses to the next stage.

Staff from Mareeba Shire Council, Tablelands Regional Council and Cairns Regional Council, along with representatives from the agriculture, industry and community sectors, have been involved in the crucial assessment.

Mr Butcher said stakeholders will take part in Investment Logic Mapping workshops in May, as part of the Service Need analysis.

“It’s important to undertake these thorough assessment processes to determine which infrastructure, and non-infrastructure options will best deliver water security and economic growth in one of Queensland’s most important food bowl regions,” Mr Butcher said.

“This will ensure that investment decisions are well informed and that the region has a plan in place that will drive economic development through investment in important water infrastructure.

“We’ve seen how critical investment in water is in this region with the completion of Sunwater’s Mareeba Dimbulah Efficiency Improvement Project which has improved the ability of the scheme to meet demand, as well as making more water available to irrigators.”

Once the Service Need analysis has been completed for the region, work will get underway to develop initiatives, and shortlist options for detailed analysis.

Work continues in the Southern and Darling Downs region 

Work is continuing on the Southern and Darling Downs Regional Water Assessment to enable the region to plan for the water needs of the future and drive economic development.

The advisory group appointed to help determine water security options for the Southern and Darling Downs has received the initial Service Need analysis.

The assessment is designed to deliver water security and economic growth to one of Queensland’s most important food bowls.  

Staff from Goondiwindi Regional Council, Western Downs Regional Council, Southern Downs Regional Council and Toowoomba Regional Council, along with representatives from the agriculture, industry and community sectors are working together for the assessment.

Mr Butcher said the Service Need analysis was presented to the Southern and Darling Downs Stakeholder Advisory Group at a meeting in Dalby in April 2022 in an important next step in the Regional Water Assessment process. 

“It is important to thoroughly assess needs in order to determine which options will best deliver water security and economic growth to this important food bowl region of Queensland,” Mr Butcher said.

“This will ensure that investment decisions are well informed and assist this region to plan for the future.”

The Queensland Government provided $15 million for emergency water carting to Stanthorpe, almost $20 million for the Southern Downs drought resilience package, and $3 million for a regional water assessment to plan for the region’s long-term water needs.

There are plans for and consulting on the Toowoomba to Warwick Pipeline underway as well.

Survey for water users in Bundaberg and Burnett 

Bundaberg and Burnett farmers are being asked to outline their future water needs in a survey to improve water security and plan for the region’s future water needs.

A 20-minute online survey has been released for current and potential irrigators to provide information that will inform water requirements in the region for the next 30 years.

Sunwater is leading the Bundaberg and Burnett assessment, on behalf of the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water.

The assessment’s Stakeholder Advisory Group has held meetings in Bundaberg and Murgon, and Sunwater CEO, Glenn Stockton, said the response from councils, industry groups and peak bodies had been positive.

“There is a great deal of interest in this program, and we look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders across the region,” Mr Stockton said.

Mr Butcher said the Bundaberg and Burnett Regional Water Assessment will examine opportunities across the entire region, so that all options can be assessed together to determine how the region’s water needs can be met.

“The Bundaberg and Burnett Regional Water Assessment is identifying how investment in water can enhance future agricultural, industrial and urban growth, helping unlock the economic potential of one of Queensland’s most important food bowl regions – and this survey is a key part of that process,” Mr Butcher said.

Member for Bundaberg, Tom Smith, encouraged growers and other agricultural water users to get involved and complete the survey.

“Your input will ensure we have the most up-to-date data and perspectives for the assessment which helps planning for the future,” Mr Smith said.

The confidential survey asks participants to identify their location, current and future potential uses, how much water they are using now and how much they think they might need in the future. 

It will be open until 15 May 2022 here.

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