September 26, 2019
Lowering the capacity of Paradise Dam could provide a golden opportunity for more water to be retained for use in the South Burnett.
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said on Thursday he accepted the State Government’s position that the Paradise Dam wall had to be lowered for safety reasons.
However, much of the water that flows into Paradise Dam, near Biggenden, originated in the South and North Burnett regions.
If it could no longer be stored in the reduced-capacity dam, it would open up opportunities for it to be stored elsewhere to foster jobs and agricultural growth in the Burnett.
On Tuesday, Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said 105,000 megalitres would be released from the dam over 10 weeks to reduce its capacity to 42 per cent.
This followed recent tests which showed the 13-year-old dam could fail in a major flood.
About a quarter of the release would be stored downstream in the Ned Churchward Weir (Walla Weir) and the Ben Anderson Barrage.
The remaining amount, about 80,000 megalitres, would be available for free over the 10-week release period.
Mayor Campbell said there was no way the South Burnett could make use of this “free” water now but when the capacity of the dam was lowered, opportunities would open up which he hoped would be identified in a $2 million water feasibility study being undertaken on behalf of the South and North Burnett councils.
“The study is being administered by the Department of Natural Resources, and within the next few days it will advise us which consultant will be undertaking the work,” Mayor Campbell said.
“This study will involve community and stakeholder engagement; develop a methodology for a strategic business case; and unearth an enormous amount of information.”
He expected this new information about Paradise Dam would be “seriously taken into consideration” during the study.
“When I was elected Mayor four years ago I made getting more water for the South Burnett one of my top priorities,” he said.
“There are a number of current irrigators in our region who want more water, as well as hundreds of other farmers who’d like it to expand their operations.
“I’d like to see a well-developed plan prepared which would allow South and North Burnett farmers gain access to this water.
“Yes, it will cost money. But the future growth of both regions is limited if we can’t get access to more water to expand agricultural productivity on our rich and fertile soils.”
The Mayor said more water would also attract industry to set up value-adding businesses, and a bigger population that would require extra water as well.
“I’m happy to work co-operatively with the State Government through the feasibility study that’s about to get under way,” Mayor Campbell said.
“But the time to develop the future of the South Burnett is now.
“This isn’t a criticism of the government, but it’s an opportunity for them to ensure the long-term future of our regions.”