A substantial increase in water allocations for projects on the Flinders River as announced this week by Dr Anthony Lynham, Minister for State Development, Natural Resources and Mines, is certain to speed up the development of new industries such as irrigated cropping, feedlots and meat processing in the Mid-West Shires said MITEZ President, David Glasson.
“The decision by the Queensland Government to release an additional 239,650 ML in the Flinders River catchment on top of the 80,000ML announced in 2013 will enable larger scale projects as well a number smaller operators to plan projects and prepare for the tendering process later this year” said Mr Glasson.
“All of the work undertaken over the past ten years or more by MITEZ the Shires along the Flinders River has finally paid off as we have facilitated a number of studies and reports into schemes such as the O’Connell Creek Off-stream storage at Richmond, small-scale mosaic irrigation at Hughenden and proposals for in-stream dams such as Cave Hill at Cloncurry” he said.
In 2013 CSIRO completed its assessment of the Flinders River catchment which had a strong focus on environmental sustainability with particular attention to any impacts to the prawn and barramundi fishing in the Gulf as well as indigenous and cultural issues associated with the river. CSIRO had recommended the possibility of a greater amount of water being available for extraction although subject to a number of conditions with some of those being applied to this new allocation which are designed to mitigate any possible impacts said Mr Glasson.
With the tender process soon to commence, Mr Glasson said it was important that the eventual allocations of water be utilised for productive purposes in a reasonable timeframe and not to be banked for future water trading. Also that just a few large corporations do not take the lion’s share of what is available as MITEZ would also like to see opportunities to develop small scale farms as this would provide employment, social and economic opportunities in communities such as Hughenden, Richmond and Julia Creek.
Mr Glasson said the Queensland Government should be concerned about the flow-on benefits to these communities rather than achieving the best price they can get for the water. As the original intent has always been to use some large examples at catalysts, opportunities for small producers should not be forgotten.