Emu Swamp receives 'game changer' funding

13th March 2018 6:30 AM
STEERING THE SHIP: Lloyd Taylor will assist in the project management of the Emu Swamp Dam feasibility study. STEERING THE SHIP: Lloyd Taylor will assist in the project management of the Emu Swamp Dam feasibility study. Liana Walker

EMU Swamp Dam is $3.5 million closer to realisation after funding was ripped from Southern Downs Regional Council and placed in the coffers of the Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce.

The Queensland Government signed off on the funding deed last week, allowing the chamber of commerce to go straight to work.

The chamber has secured over $3.5 million from the Australian Government's National Water Infrastructure Development Fund to "conduct a feasibility study into building a dam and associated water distribution infrastructure at Emu Swamp".

Project Steering Committee Chair Brent Finlay welcomed the announcement that the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy had signed the funding deed, which has greenlit the project to proceed.

"A detailed study into the feasibility of the Emu Swamp Dam is long overdue and, if proven viable, this project could help secure additional local water supplies, boost business opportunities and create local jobs," Mr Finlay said.

"The economies of the Southern Downs, Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt could significantly benefit from the completion of this feasibility study with local procurement a strong driver for the project team.

"This study presents an ideal opportunity to identify whether the building of a dam at Emu Swamp and associated water infrastructure for agricultural and industrial use is economically viable.

"The study will also identify opportunities for existing producers or new entrants to participate in the development of an irrigation scheme and access additional secure water supplies."

Working hand in hand with Mr Finlay will be project manager Lloyd Taylor.

"We've started it off. We've engaged a lead consultant and that is Jacobs, who have a degree of familiarity with the project," Mr Taylor said.

"It (the study) builds on all the work done previously. But what it does is actually put a stronger focus on the economics and the financial aspects of the costs that will be involved in delivering the dam.

"This will tell us whether or not it is financially viable to construct the dam. It's way too early at this point to discuss funding (the build).

"We're not promising anything will happen but this is the process we have to go through."

Mr Taylor said public information sessions will likely take place in the coming weeks.

According to chamber representatives, this represents the largest project of its kind ever undertaken by a local chamber of commerce.

"Water is the life blood for our farmers and if this proves to be viable it'll be a real game changer," Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce president Bill James said.

It's anticipated that the feasibility study will be finalised and submitted initially to the Queensland Government by the end of this year.