Water is the lifeblood of agriculture, regional communities and the people of Queensland more broadly. Surface water dominates our water supply sources but groundwater also plays an important role, especially for inland parts of the state. Approximately 7.9 million megalitres of water in Queensland is allocated for use across the state. Access to this water relies heavily on rainfall which is highly seasonal and varies considerably year to year.
The Queensland Government has invested $9 million to deliver Regional Water Assessments (RWA) in three of what are Queensland’s most significant food bowls – the Southern and Darling Downs, the Bundaberg and Burnett, and the Tablelands regions – with the aim of identifying water supply solutions to drive future economic growth. Regional Water Assessments are to provide a region-level assessment of water needs and options to improve water security and maximise economic development opportunities in the project area.
QFF, its members, and other stakeholders are participating in the process, that is to build on previous studies with the view of making the best use of existing knowledge and ensure previous work is not lost. The overall approach has been divided into three phases; phase one will establish the service need and a short list of options; phase two will focus on the detailed analysis of options and generating the overall strategy for the RWA, and phase three will be the creation of the final report.
The process is to consider both infrastructure and non-infrastructure options including improving the efficiency of existing water supply schemes and maximising the benefit from existing water resources and infrastructure. As a participant on the stakeholder advisory groups and working groups for all three RWA’s, QFF is advocating for water security, economic growth and long-term viability of the agricultural sector through effective policy development.
Queensland is long overdue for the development of a clear, strategic and workable water plan that provides a blueprint, underpinned by investment, to securing affordable, reliable water for the future development of this state. Whilst we continue to await the release of the Bradfield Report, we will be watching closely for outcomes from the Regional Water Assessments.