The Federal Government has approved funding for a detailed business case to develop a potential $500 million Hughenden water project.
The Hughenden Irrigation Project Corporation (HIPCo) received approval for the next phase to go ahead after submitting a preliminary business case in March which showed the scheme was viable.
HIPCo chair Shane McCarthy said the plans for the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme had been revised as the study progressed, including a shift in the planned site for the dam.
He said HIPCo had identified a site adjacent to the Flinders River where the proposed dam would make use of the natural topography and harvest water from the river in an effective and efficient manner.
The plan at this stage covers a dam with a holding capacity of about 190,000 megalitres and an annual yield of about 80,000 megalitres.
It is expected to allow the gravity-fed irrigation of about 8000ha of land with scope to expand if more water becomes available.
The benefits of this site would also help keep costs down, Mr McCarthy said.
He said the preliminary business case, compiled by consultants Engeny Water Management, had thrown up an expected cost of just under $500 million – although he believed further work may bring that down.
The expected economic benefits for the region were calculated around $72 million a year, however this will depend on a number of factors being further defined in the detailed business case. The volume of water, the type of crops, the size of the dam and the price of water will all be optimised during the next phase.
“Overall, I feel the project is travelling very well. It’s very promising for the local economy, the region and Queensland. We’ve had extensive support from the North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority and the Federal Government,” Mr McCarthy said.
“I feel very strongly that it is a feasible project that will come to fruition within the next few years and will provide economic stimulus, will help break the drought cycle and meet all the environmental approvals required.”
The detailed business case is expected to be completed within 18 months.