Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd with Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack in Gladstone on Monday (Photo: Flynn Electorate Office)

November 19, 2018

The Federal Government will spend $2 million to improve water infrastructure for farmers in the South and North Burnett as part of its national drought-proofing plan.

Acting Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack made the announcement in Gladstone on Monday.

He committed the funding for a feasibility study to investigate options for new infrastructure to increase water supply and security in the North and South Burnett.

Mr McCormack said the $580 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, which was set up to pay for studies and construction of dams, pipelines and irrigation projects to drought-proof Australia, had committed all its funds.

The government would now top up the fund with an extra $500 million.

This would include a $30 million feasibility component to help State and Territory governments identify and progress critical water infrastructure projects.

“The $2 million we are committing for the Burnett regions feasibility study demonstrates we are getting on with the job of supporting communities to work with the States and Federal Government to identify, plan and build new water infrastructure,” Mr McCormack said.

Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud said water meant wealth and jobs in the regions.

“As a former rural bank manager, I know the value of a megalitre of water to a rural community,” he said.

Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd also welcomed the announcement.

“The feasibility study is great news for farmers in the region as it will examine a range of options and identify solutions to increase water supply that would underpin an expansion of irrigated agriculture, delivering new jobs and economic growth in the North and South Burnett regions,” he said.

He said the $2 million South and North Burnett study recognised the need for more water storages in both regions.

Falling water levels at Boondooma Dam almost saw irrigators cut off this year, with potentially devastating consequences for farms reliant on irrigation.

The fund has already committed more than $426 million for water projects in Queensland.

This includes $182 million for the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme, $176 million for Rookwood Weir near Rockhampton, $54 million for Hells Gates Dam on the upper Burdekin River, $11 million for the Mareeba-Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme and $3 million for the Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme.

It has also provided nearly $25 million for 15 feasibility studies to identify potential new water infrastructure projects.

The fund is now worth more than $1 billion, and is in addition to the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility which offers low-interest loans to build high-priority irrigation schemes.

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