OLD PROJECT: Grazier Don Joyce with wife Margaret and son Ben with map of area at Nathan Dam, taken back in 1998.
OLD PROJECT: Grazier Don Joyce with wife Margaret and son Ben with map of area at Nathan Dam, taken back in 1998.

Push for major $1.2B water project to help CQ farmers

IT IS a project that has been around for 100 years but it has not managed to get off the ground.

Nathan Dam has been talked about since the 1920s, much to the frustration of irrigators nearby who can't access the 10s of thousands of megalitres of water sitting in the dam's reserves.

Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan has thrown his support behind Callide MP Colin Boyce's push for better water infrastructure as a way to grow the agriculture and mining industries in Central Queensland.

Mr Canavan said water projects in the Central Queensland region were vital for continued growth and economic development.

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan.
Queensland Senator Matt Canavan.

"Agriculture and horticulture industries need water and mining needs water," Senator Canavan said.

Reliable water sources are essential for businesses to employ more Queenslanders and to keep our rural towns growing.

"Projects like Nathan Dam give certainty to invest in irrigation systems, open and expand mining operations, therefore allowing work bases to grow.

"I commend Colin Boyce on his push for the Nathan Dam project."

The dam would hold 888,312 megalitres with an annual yield of 66,011 ML and a 149.3-kilometre trunk pipeline, through the Surat Basin to Warra.

The dam wall would be located on the Dawson River, 36km north-east of Taroom.

Figures from 2012 estimate it would cost $1.2 billion, creating up to 525 jobs during construction and five jobs once operational.

"Central Queensland is a true foodbowl. From irrigated cropping along the Dawson River and Emerald, to mining throughout the Surat and Bowen basins, as well as the highest volume of beef production in Australia," Senator Canavan said.

"But, to keep it going we need proactive water infrastructure development. We need dams."

The project has already gone through an environmental study, which was approved in 2017.

Member for Callide, Colin Boyce.
Member for Callide, Colin Boyce.

Mr Boyce  said the Nathan Dam project was vital for the region and that he would fight for the project.

"Nathan Dam is critical to the growth of the Callide district, both to secure the water supply for irrigators and to open up new mining and power generation projects throughout the electorate," Mr Boyce said.

"Agriculture and mining are vital to Callide, with over 28 per cent of the electorate directly employed in these industries.

"This dam will provide water for coal mines and power stations throughout the Surat Basin, for irrigation along in the Dawson Valley Water Supply Scheme, towns along the Dawson River and new mining projects in the Southern Bowen Basin.

"Nathan Dam would give certainty to the Wandoan Coal project, which is expected to deliver over $10 billion in economic benefit over its 30 year lifespan and 1,300 jobs in construction and operation."

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Palaszczuk Government supported the construction of water infrastructure projects that delivered value for money for Queensland taxpayers.

"The Nathan Dam proposal has been going through the required assessments and approvals for a major infrastructure proposal, and has completed the Environmental Impact Study," Dr Lynham said.

"The Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy has approved the project with conditions including a restriction on new water for agriculture.

"The viability of the project depends on demand from key customers in the mining sector and Sunwater is liaising with potential project customers."

"In the meantime, 90,000 megalitres of water was released last year for farmers' use in in the Dawson Valley Water Management Area."

Dr Lynham said the State Government had an $848 million commitment to water infrastructure, including Rookwood Weir, delivering more than 1600 jobs to regional Queensland.