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.
Under this initiative:
- the Oakover Valley Irrigation Pre-feasibility Study in Western Australia was completed in April 2017
- nine feasibility studies are on track to be completed by April 2018
- five feasibility studies will be completed by April 2019.
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 government has also committed $130 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 project, which has already obtained Commonwealth environmental approval, would create 2,000 jobs and boost agricultural production by more than $1 billion.
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. Around $147 million in funding remains available for water infrastructure investments under the capital component of the fund, including a minimum of $40 million for investments in northern Australia.
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.