SunWater’s proposed Nathan Dam on the Dawson River has received environmental approvals.
The dam is part of the Nathan Dam and Pipelines Project, aimed at providing long-term, reliable water supplies to mining, power, urban and agricultural customers in the Surat Basin and the Dawson-Callide region of central Queensland.
The project is expected to cost $1.19 billion (based on 2012 figures) comprising $650 million for the dam and $540 million for the pipeline.
SunWater chief executive officer Nicole Hollows said she was pleased with the outcome of the environmental impact statement process which had been suspended in 2009 to further investigate a critically endangered snail population.
“Investigations of the critically endangered boggomoss snail have been undertaken by independent experts and found the population to be significantly higher than originally suggested,” Ms Hollows said.
“Conditions have been set in State and Commonwealth approvals to protect and manage the impacts on the snail, including the requirement for offsets and relocation of a population directly in the dam footprint.
“If the project were to proceed, SunWater will take all the required steps to preserve long-term health, function and viability of the natural environment.”
The Federal Government approved the environmental impact statement (EIS), subject to conditions, following the Coordinator-General’s approval of the project and release of his evaluation report in May this year.
The proposed location for Nathan Dam is 2km upstream of Nathan Gorge on the Dawson River.
It would have a capacity of up to 888,312 megalitres to service future industrial and mining development in the Surat and southern Bowen basins.
Ms Hollows said while there would be no new allocation available for agriculture from the project, the dam will provide greater reliability of supply for downstream irrigators with existing allocations.
“The next step in the process would be an independent Detailed Business Case to be undertaken by Building Queensland, but that will only progress when there is sufficient market demand to progress the project,” she said.
“Given the current downturn in mining it’s unlikely there will be sufficient industry demand required to commence construction, however we are confident that demand will return and when it does we will be in a position to progress the opportunity.”
It is anticipated that construction of the Nathan Dam and associated pipelines would take nearly three years following finalisation of a Detailed Business Case.