Crucial Burnett water study moves forward
A CONSULTANT has been appointed to conduct the long awaited $2 million Burnett water feasibility study.
The study, announced by the Federal Government in November 2018, will assess water supply and security options in the North Burnett and South Burnett council areas.
The primary objectives are to quantify the extent to which lack of reliable supply is constraining the region's economic development, especially in relation to agricultural and industrial production, and to identify and asses at a preliminary level the feasibility of future water supply and security options.
South Burnett Regional Council revealed that Jacobs Group (Australia), the local subsidiary of the New York Stock Exchange-listed multinational consultancy, has successfully tendered for the project.
Jacobs has more than 5000 Australian employees, and has Queensland offices in Cairns, Townsville and South Brisbane.
A draft report of the study was originally meant to be handed down in December, but delays in finalising funding agreements, due to the federal election in May, has pushed the expected delivery date back to mid-2020.
North Burnett Regional Council was upfront in what they hoped the study would deliver: a "water reliability and accessibility solution" for the Coalstoun Lakes and Boyne River areas.
The Coalstoun Lakes Development Group has been lobbying intensely for their 'Just Add Water' initiative, which would see a pipeline built from Paradise Dam, but has so far been unsuccessful in securing a meeting with the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.
Meanwhile, a joint study by the Rural Economies Centre of Excellence and the Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation recently concluded that the "Boyne (River) irrigation industry is crucial to economic development and diversification" in the North Burnett.
A representative of SBRC said that "while council is aware of a number of projects, our only wish... was to create the voice of our community and ensure projects were developed not only to create more access to water but also improve water security for existing allocations".
A steering group consisting of both councils, Sunwater, the department and Jacobs has been formed to commence the rollout, with the department leading the group.
"We believe strongly that this will be a significant first step in trying to grow our economy with water for the future," the SBRC representative said.
A department representative said the department is responsible for co-ordinating input into the study from government agencies, while the two councils are responsible for co-ordinating consultation with local stakeholders and community members.