December 20, 2019
The long-awaited multi-million dollar water feasibility study for the Burnett region has finally begun.
International group Jacobs Engineering has been appointed the lead consultant for the study, which will identify the long-term water needs for the South and North Burnett regions.
The $2 million funding – plus another $1.5 million to investigate a possible Coalstoun Lakes pipeline – has come from the Federal Government’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.
“We are excited that the water agenda has become prominent at all levels of government,” South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said on Friday.
“This feasibility study is one of three critical and concurrent projects that will help to shape our future water strategies.”
The two other studies exploring water options in the region are:
Mayor Campbell said co-ordination between the three project teams would occur:
Mayor Campbell said the South Burnett / North Burnett water feasibility study aimed to identify water supply options that had the potential to improve the reliability of existing supplies for towns, business and irrigated agriculture.
This would boost the regional economy and 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 allocations,” he said.
“Even if all our existing dams were full, we do not have enough water to maximise the potential growth of the region’s economy and bring more jobs to our communities.”
The first phase of the study – the strategic and preliminary business case – would create a short list of the most promising options.
This was expected by mid-2020.
“From there, the preferred options for each Council area will be progressed to future phases including more detailed design and cost estimates, expected to be complete by late 2020, early 2021,” Mayor Campbell said.
“This study will build on the water agenda led by Council in the past two to three years and follows on from our previous work with the community to engage in water futures.
“(It) will identify the most promising water infrastructure solutions and increase our chances of a real project being funded and constructed in the region.”
Mayor Campbell said community engagement would be a “pillar” of the study, which will be co-ordinated in partnership between the two councils, the Department of Natural Resources and Sunwater.
“Jacobs has been asked to engage with major water users who are seeking access to more reliable water,” he said.
“Jacobs will conduct a series of multi-layered stakeholder engagement meetings and workshops consisting of one-on-one interviews and small group meetings with current high volume water users, as well as a series of public meetings and workshops within our region for all current and future water users.
“This detailed stakeholder engagement commenced in December and will continue into the first half of 2020.
“The primary goal of these engagements is to understand how much water is needed considering potential costs of water, where it needs to be delivered, when and the enterprises it will strengthen.”
Mayor Campbell invited people to register their interest in the project by emailing their contact details to [email protected] or by phoning Council on (07) 4189-9100.
“Jacobs also welcomes any information that you may have in relation to possible projects and, in particular, any future drivers to create significant demand for bulk water,” Mayor Campbell said.
“Jacobs will contact you to organise a face-to-face meeting to understand the volume of your demand, the enterprise/s it would support, the geographical location of that demand and your preferred timing.”