Darling Downs, Queensland

The Granite Belt Irrigation Project, including Emu Swamp Dam, will be included in the Queensland Government’s Southern and Darling Downs Regional Water Assessment (RWA) program. 

Including the project in the RWA for further assessment is the best way forward, with the support of the Australian and Queensland Governments.

The RWA program provides both a credible process and productive stakeholder forum in which to confirm the Granite Belt’s future water needs and explore the merits of any alternative options. 

Queensland Water Minister, Glenn Butcher, said following advice from the proponent, the estimated project cost had increased.

“The Palaszczuk Labor Government will always support projects that stack up and it’s absolutely critical that we plan for projects like these, so they don’t become a drain on the taxpayer.

“Federal funding for this project was deferred in the Albanese Labor Government’s budget, which has given us the opportunity to have the project moved under the RWA.

“It’s important to remember, funding hasn’t been cancelled, only deferred while all options for water security in the region can be determined, noting that the estimated cost for this project has recently increased to more than $240 million; much more than the original $84 million price tag.”

Federal Water Minister, Tanya Plibersek, said the project remained in the federal budget.

“We know that the Stanthorpe region has faced real water security issues in the past. It’s important we find a solution for the community.

“We have deferred the funding for now, until options for a viable way forward can be explored. We need to make sure that we investigate all options for a future solution.”

The Regional Water Assessments take input and advice from key stakeholders including local government, industry and peak bodies, Sunwater and Seqwater.

Minister Butcher said the Queensland Government has already made significant investments for water security in the Southern and Darling Downs, so the community should feel confident that this is the best way forward.

“It was the Palaszczuk Labor Government which paid to cart water to Stanthorpe when Storm King Dam ran dry, we’ve invested more than $19 million through the Southern Downs Drought Resilience Package and we’ve committed to building the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline, which represents over $300 million of further investment in this region.”

The Queensland Government welcomes support from federal officials to deliver this work.

The Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water continues to work closely with Granite Belt Water. 

The department is planning a Regional Water Assessment Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting in the near future, to outline a way forward for the assessment process.

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