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Mareeba and Emerald irrigation channel efficiency projects get tick of approval


Two water efficiency projects that will capture up to 14,000ML in water losses from channels in key Queensland irrigation schemes have been awarded funding under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF).

SunWater, with the support of its customers, has secured 46 percent of the total capital cost of the Mareeba Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme (WSS) Efficiency Improvement Project and 25 percent for the Nogoa Mackenzie WSS Efficiency Improvement Project.

The Mareeba Dimbulah WSS will receive three new balancing storages with a combined capacity of 305ML; 25 automated irrigation channel gates; and the conversion of 4.5km gravity-fed pipeline into a modern pressurised system.

The efficiency and modernisation works in the Nogoa Mackenzie WSS include lining 34 km of irrigation channel in the with high density polyethylene (HDPE).

Once project works are complete, SunWater will have the capability to convert water saved into approximately 14,000ML in additional tradeable water entitlements for irrigators.

SunWater Chief Executive Officer Nicole Hollows today said the NWIDF funding was a sign of confidence in SunWater’s ability to deliver complex modernisation projects that deliver tangible outcomes for customers.

“We’re very excited to be delivering these projects, both of which will provide increases in tradeable entitlements that can be sold on the water market,” Ms Hollows said.

“The Federal Budget allocations of $11.6 million for the Mareeba Dimbulah WSS and $3 million for the Nogoa Mackenzie WSS will ensure vital enhancements can be made to these water supply schemes, meaning they can deliver greater efficiency for customers for years to come.

“We expect to begin surveying, Geotech and design works in the coming months, with the view to start construction before the end of the year.” 

Mareeba Dimbulah WSS Efficiency Improvement Project

Works on the Mareeba Dimbulah WSS will comprise six sub-projects to improve operating efficiency and reduce water losses by up to 8,000ML.

SunWater will construct approximately 4.5 kilometres of pressurised pipeline, creating an additional three balancing storages with capacities of 200ML, 100ML and 5ML as well as installing 25 automated gates in key reaches of the channel system.

Total project cost is $28 million, of which SunWater will invest $16.4 million to supplement NWIDF funding commitment of $11.6 million.

The Mareeba Dimbulah WSS was established in 1958 upon completion of the Tinaroo Falls Dam, to provide water to the Barron Gorge power station. Today the Mareeba Dimbulah WSS supports more than 1,000 irrigation, industrial and urban customers with a total of 204,424ML in water entitlements.

Nogoa Mackenzie WSS Efficiency Improvement Project

The Nogoa Mackenzie WSS will benefit from HDPE lining to 34 kilometres of the Selma Channel system, which will dramatically reduce seepage losses currently occurring in the irrigation channel.

The saved volume will be introduced back into the irrigation scheme through the conversion of water allocations. Initial estimates are that approximately 6,000ML of additional water entitlement will be made available for customers to purchase.

Total project cost is $11.7 million, of which SunWater will invest $8.7 million to supplement NWIDF funding commitment of $3 million.

The Nogoa Mackenzie WSS was established in 1968 to meet agricultural and mining developments and the water requirements of associated urban communities in Central Queensland. Fairbairn Dam on the Nogoa River is the main storage for the scheme. The scheme supports 387 customers and more than 70 percent of the scheme’s water entitlements are held by irrigators.

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