FORGING AHEAD: Chamber of Commerce representatives joined politicians at the Emu Swamp Dam site earlier this year.
FORGING AHEAD: Chamber of Commerce representatives joined politicians at the Emu Swamp Dam site earlier this year.

Chamber hands dam reins to not-for-profit

THE Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce has taken the Emu Swamp Dam project as far as they can.

After successfully negotiating with irrigators, federal government and state government to obtain the $84 million needed to build the dam, chamber has handed the reins over.

It will now be taken forward by not-for-profit organisation, Granite Belt Water Limited.

“Chamber has signed the deed of novation which will transfer the project to Granite Belt Water Limited,” Chamber of Commerce Emu Swamp Dam subcommittee member Amanda Harrold said.

“The chamber is no longer the proponent of the dam.

“That’s very exciting. We’re very proud of what we’ve done.

“The chamber is the only chamber of commerce or community group to deliver a detailed business case on water infrastructure.

“We’ve managed to secure $84 million from state and federal governments and local producers.

“It is an outstanding result and we should be proud,” Mrs Harrold said.

After council failed to progress the project, the chamber of commerce were given the lead.

All the goals they set out to achieve have been, according to subcommittee chair Stephen Tancred.

“There’s been 21 of these detailed business cases that were funded in the same round as ours two years ago.

“Ours was the smallest and it was a community organisation and we’ve been successful. Others were being done by huge councils like Townsville and the like.

“It’s a feather in the cap for the Granite Belt. Now we’re ready to move onto our next project,” Mr Tancred said.

Granite Belt Water Limited is continuing discussions with the state government so construction can begin.

They still need to meet certain conditions before ground can be broken.

“The stated aim is to have things start mid-2020,” Mr Tancred said.

One thing Mr Tancred is keen to do, is clear up “so many misconceptions in the community” about the project.

“One misconception is that this is only going to help people at Ballandean. Well no, the pipeline will go all the way to Pozieres.

“There’s 117km of pipeline to Pozieres, Cottonvale and Amiens.

“Everyone who wanted water had the opportunity through a national call out application process that was very open.

“People taking water range from 10 megalitres to 100 megalitres. So it’s small, medium and large growers.”

The dam itself will dwarf Storm King Dam. Once complete, it will be 600m long, 23m high and hold five times more water than Storm King.

“It’s not a shallow small dam like some people think it is.

“It will also release water to the environment regularly and has all the environmental approvals.”

Mr Tancred said the door remained open to Southern Downs Regional Council to get involved.

“It is currently 100 per cent irrigation dam, however, it was always the aspiration of previous councils to make it an urban and irrigation dam.

“It was the hope of the chamber, and the door is still open, for council to participate at no capital cost to the ratepayer,” he said.

After countless sleepless nights, Mrs Harrold said chamber can pat themselves on the back.

“It’s part of the puzzle towards our future security. Not the whole answer, but part of the puzzle.”