US company to conduct $2M Burnett water study
THE long-awaited water feasibility study has started across the South and North Burnett regions, but has already copped criticism for being undertaken by a foreign company.
The study, which aims to secure the economic future of the Burnett, is being paid for by national water infrastructure development funds to identify the long-term water needs of the region and assess options for meeting those needs.
South Burnett Regional Council Mayor Keith Campbell said the study aimed to "identify water supply options that have the potential to improve the reliability of existing supplies for towns, business and irrigated agriculture in the Burnett, to boost the economic dynamics in the region and to underpin future investment".
"The study will directly focus on identifying possible options to increase water availability for our region and also on key projects that may be able to improve the reliability of existing allocation," he said.
However, some community members have questioned why US company, Jacobs, is undertaking the study instead of a Burnett business.
Council chief executive Mark Pitt said the decision about who undertook the study was out of the council's hands due to where the funding came from.
"Funding was announced by the Federal Government for the National Water Infrastructure Development fund," Mr Pitt said.
"Originally there was $1 million dollars announced for both the South Burnett and North Burnett.
"The money didn't go to us directly, it went between the Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier …
"Because it was a Queensland Government funding agreement, the engagement of the consultant to undertake the study was exclusively done by the Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy and it actually became $2 million cumulative.
"DNRME put their Queensland Government procurement policy and protocols in place."
Mr Pitt said four companies with experience in economics and engineering provided quotes to conduct the work.
"They selected Jacobs because a) their proposal was the best and b) they had a strong public engagement focus and they were doing similar work in the Lockyer Valley and Emu Swamp Dam.," he said.
"They are an American company but they are managed locally out of Brisbane and have regional bases.
"Jacobs have already been in the Burnett pre-Christmas and met with major stakeholders for one-on-one meetings."
Mr Pitt said the council hoped it would be able to announce the timelines for the public consultation sessions next week.
He said there were four parallel water studies being undertaken across the Burnett and the council aimed to have the DNRME water feasibility study ready for comment by June 2020.