SunWater channel irrigator working group established

05 Jul 2012

Minister for Energy and Water Supply
The Honourable Mark McArdle

The Newman Government has moved quickly to establish a working group to develop sustainable local ideas for SunWater's channel water services, following the release of its new five year rural irrigation price path.

Most cost increases were limited to CPI. However, Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark McArdle said some irrigators believed further savings could be achieved by ensuring future services and capital investment were what irrigators wanted - and needed.

"There are alternative local management arrangements for channel irrigation schemes that farmers believe will reduce costs, while offering improved management and preservation of waterways," Mr McArdle said.

"This is very welcome advice from some of SunWater's customers and will now be investigated by a specialist working group."

The Minister said well-respected farmer, irrigator and former Australian Heritage Commissioner Leith Boully will be the working group's chair.

Ms Boully has wasted no time accepting this challenge and has already contacted the Department to develop terms of reference and selection criteria.

The working group will include representatives from SunWater as well as local and peak irrigation bodies. It will identify efficient and sustainable local irrigator (distribution) management models.

Mr McArdle said the Newman Government would enthusiastically consider innovative local irrigator distribution and management systems.

"We want efficiency and affordability without compromising the quality, capacity and long-term sustainability of the local water supply," he said.

"Some of the most pragmatic solutions are developed by people with good local knowledge.

"I encourage irrigators to help the working group identify local issues, concerns and aspirations, especially innovative local user management solutions in channel irrigation systems."

Mr McArdle said he recognised the availability of reliable and affordable water was critical to economic activity and necessary to maintain higher living standards for all Queenslanders.

"The Newman Government is building agriculture as one of the four pillars of the economy and has a target of doubling food production by 2040. As the supplier of bulk water outside the southeast, SunWater has a major role to play," he said.

The working group will provide an interim report to Government via an inter-departmental advisory committee in late October 2012.

Ms Leith Boully is Adjunct Professor in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences (UQ) and a founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. She is a board member of Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited and former Deputy Chair of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

SunWater, a Government-Owned Corporation, manages a regional network of bulk water supply infrastructure throughout Queensland that supports about 5,000 customers across the local government, power generation, mining, industrial and agricultural sectors.

 

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