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The Queensland Government is implementing a $3 million Southern and Darling Downs Regional Water Assessment, addressing water security and long-term strategic plans for water management. 

The Assessment has begun and will be covering areas in rural Queensland, such as: Southern Downs, Goondiwindi, Toowoomba regions and parts of the Western Downs.

Queensland Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher, said the State Government was delivering on its commitment to improve water security throughout the state.

“We know that long-term water security and planning will be essential for regional Queenslanders as we continue to deliver our economic plan to build back from the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Butcher said.

“With the commencement of this Regional Water Assessment, we are keeping our promise to explore ways to unlock the economic potential of our regional areas.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, Mark Furner, said, “Agriculture and primary production is a key pillar of Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

“We moved quickly to declare agriculture an essential industry at the beginning of the pandemic, and it will continue to be at the forefront as we build an exciting economic future for Queensland.”

To kick-off the assessment the Southern and Darling Downs advisory group – including local council representatives, industry stakeholders and representatives from Sunwater – met for the first time in mid-July. 

Mr Butcher said the first meeting was productive with attendees engaged and positive about the opportunity.

“Water is the lifeblood of our regional communities so it’s crucial we get supply right and unlock the economic potential of Queensland’s food bowls,” Mr Butcher said.

“The advisory group is looking forward to identifying the opportunities that will best serve the Southern and Darling Downs region.

“Local expertise and experience will be essential to getting the right solutions for each region and we welcome local mayors, council representatives and leading industry bodies, and thank them for engaging with us.”

Mr Butcher added that the program will build on previous studies to ensure the advisory group is making the best use of existing knowledge, to develop a comprehensive strategy to address future water supply needs.

“Next steps include engaging with stakeholders to identify the future water demands for the area as well as compiling a comprehensive list of all relevant previous investigations and projects in order to build on that knowledge,” Mr Butcher said. 

The State Government is investing $9 million in regional water assessments across three food bowls of Queensland – Southern and Darling Downs, Bundaberg and Burnett, and Tablelands.

Assessments for the Bundaberg and Burnett region, and the Tablelands region will begin later in 2021.

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