The availability of water is a major driver of economic activity, particularly for key northern industries like agriculture, aquaculture, mining, energy and tourism.
While this region receives more than 60 per cent of national rainfall, falls are highly seasonal and capturing and utilising it is challenging.
Because it is vital to understand what the best solutions are to make northern water supplies more sustainable, through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund the government has invested $25.5 million in 15 water infrastructure feasibility studies in the north including:
- three in Western Australia
- one in the Northern Territory
- one across the Northern Territory and Western Australian borders
- ten in Queensland.
Three feasibility studies have been completed. The remaining studies will be completed progressively in 2018 and by mid-2019.
- The first feasibility study (Oakover Valley Irrigation, WA) was completed in April 2017.
- The Lower Fitzroy Infrastructure Project Business Case (Rookwood Weir) feasibility study was completed in February 2018.
- The third feasibility study, Clermont Water Security Feasibility Study, Qld, was compelted in April 2018.
The government is also investing $15 million for the CSIRO to conduct northern water resource assessments. The CSIRO assessments are actively involving northern jurisdictions, research partners and communities and will mean we will have a better understanding of how much water is available across the north and where it should be captured and stored to underpin the region’s growth.
The CSIRO water resource assessments are on track for completion in June 2018. They are located in:
- Fitzroy River Basin in Western Australia
- Mitchell River Basin in Queensland
- Darwin region (Adelaide, Mary, Wildman and Finniss catchments) in the Northern Territory.
Find out more about the work to improve water infrastructure in the north on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
Rockwood Weir, Queensland
The Australian Government has also committed a total of $176.1 million to co-fund the construction of the Rookwood Weir on the Fitzroy River, west of Rockhampton, which has the potential to kick-start an agricultural boom in central Queensland.
The feasibility studies and the investment in Rookwood Weir are part of the government’s $500 million funding commitment under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.
Governments in northern Australia can also partner with the Australian Government through the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility which is providing a further $2 billion in concessional loans for the development of water infrastructure.