GRANITE BELT IRRIGATION PROJECT
The Granite Belt Irrigation Project aims to provide the Granite Belt region with a new water storage and irrigation facility by 2022 to provide economic and social benefits for the entire community.
Led by the Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce (SGBCC), the preferred location for the facility is on the Severn River at Emu Swamp, approximately 15 kilometres south-west of Stanthorpe, Queensland.
Construction would be funded by private investment, with the opportunity for Government funding of this nationally significant infrastructure. While the project would also provide Stanthorpe with urban water security, there would be no capital costs to the Southern Downs rate-payers.
Using the latest engineering and design techniques, the facility would create a public asset of high amenity, deployed at the least capital and ongoing cost.
" Our region needs access to reliable water supply to enable economic growth and prosperity. The Chamber is excited by the opportunity for the Southern Downs to develop a critical irrigation project which has extensive benefits to the whole community," Bill James, President, SGBCC.
SECURING WATER FOR THE FUTURE
The Granite Belt is a nationally significant centre for food production, valued at $200-$300 million annually, with agriculture the main source of employment. Significant contribution to the growth in the region's economy has come from many progressive, multi-generational family businesses.
However, a lack of access to reliable water is hampering the expansion of food and agricutural production and significantly constraining the region's economic growth.
The Granite Belt urgently needs to shore up the drought resilience of our agricultural industries and increase the amount of water available for high value irrigation and regional development.
Critical new irrigation infrastructure would provide essential water security, enabling water to be stored and used when needed for food production, to be reliably and efficiently traded and to supply environmental flows.
The Granite Belt Irrigation Project would increase water supply in the area by up to 35%. this would enable increased production of high quality food, particularly in periods of drought, needed to secure long-term supply contracts with wholesalers and retailers domestically and internationally. It would also provide emergency water reserves for Stanthorpe and no capital cost to Southern Downs rate-payers.
BACKGROUNDSourcing a guaranteed water supply for the Granite Belt Region has been the subject of investigation for over 20 years. Decreasing availability of reliable water, with changing and less dependable rainfall patterns, has further raised the importance of water storage to meet the immediate and future needs of our region.
Several investigations and recommendations over the past two decades have contributed significantly to the case for the Granite Belt Irrigation Project.
In 2018, the SGBCC secured $3.5 million from the Australian Government's National Water Infrastructure Development Fund to conduct a feasibility study into building a dam and associated water distribution infrastructure at Emu Swamp.
The SGBCC established a legal entity, 'Emu Swamp Dam Pty Ltd', to progress the project as the preferred option to address our region's long-term water security needs. A Detailed Business Case report for the Granite Belt Irrigation Project was completed by Jacobs and delivered by the SGBCC to the Queensland Government on 30 November 2018.