The Queensland Government has announced the finalisation of the new Barron Water Plan, following a two-year consultation and assessment process to update the now 20-year-old original plan.
The new plan, which replaces the Barron Water Plan 2002, is underpinned by 20 years of scientific data and is the product of more than 30 consultative meetings with water users and stakeholders, including local government, First Nations Peoples, irrigators, environment and catchment care groups, tourism operators and industry experts.
Water in the Barron catchment is crucial for urban supply, agriculture, fishing, tourism, cultural values and hydro-electric power generation.
The catchment holds significant environmental importance as it flows to the Great Barrier Reef. The new Barron Water Plan maintains environmental protections and considers the best available science, including the effects of climate change on future water availability.
An additional 20,550ML of unallocated water from the catchment will meet new and emerging demands for water and support regional development.
The Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water will engage with stakeholders in the coming months on the next steps for unlocking this reserve.
Queensland Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher, said, “Water plans make sure we strike the right balance between water for the environment and water for consumptive use.
“When it comes to water management, I will always be informed by the science and will always listen to experts.”
Member for Cook, Cynthia Lui, said the new water plan also ensures that First Nations Peoples have continued access to water for cultural, social and economic purposes.
“Water is so critical for our region and I’m pleased this water planning process has identified more water to meet new and emerging demands.”
Member for Barron River, Craig Crawford, said with the rapid population growth in Cairns, guaranteed water supply is the lifeblood to a sustainable future.
“The additional 20,550ML of water identified in the new plan will greatly benefit our community.”