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Proposed central Queensland dam gets environmental tick of approval


Nathan Dam, a SunWater proposed dam to supply water for industrial development and urban communities in Central Queensland, has been granted environmental approvals, marking a significant milestone in determining the viability of the Nathan Dam and pipelines project.

The Federal Government approved the environmental impact statement (EIS), subject to conditions, following the Coordinator-General’s approval of the project and release of his evaluation report in May this year.

The proposed location for Nathan Dam is two kilometres upstream of Nathan Gorge on the Dawson River and would have a capacity of up to 888,312 megalitres to service future industrial and mining development in the Surat and southern Bowen basins.

SunWater Chief Executive Officer Ms Nicole Hollows said she was pleased with the outcome of the environmental impact statement process which had been suspended in 2009 to further investigate a critically endangered snail population.

"Investigations of the critically endangered Boggomoss Snail have been undertaken by independent experts and found the population to be significantly higher than originally suggested," said Ms Hollows.

"Conditions have been set in State and Commonwealth approvals to protect and manage the impacts on the snail, including the requirement for offsets and relocation of a population directly in the dam footprint.

"If the project were to proceed, SunWater will take all the required steps to preserve long-term health, function and viability of the natural environment.

"SunWater is committed to undertaking rigorous, independent and transparent processes to ensure we have the required checks and balances to make considered and responsible decisions about future water infrastructure."

Ms Hollows added while there will be no new allocation available for agriculture from the project, the dam will provide greater reliability of supply for downstream irrigators with existing allocations.

"Although a condition of the EIS approval is that no additional water is provided to agricultural users in the Dawson Valley Water Supply Scheme, the good news is a dam of this scale will provide reliability benefits for downstream irrigators," she said.

"The next step in the process would be an independent Detailed Business Case to be undertaken by Building Queensland, but that will only progress when there is sufficient market demand to progress the project.

"Given the current downturn in mining it’s unlikely there will be sufficient industry demand required to commence construction, however we are confident that demand will return and when it does we will be in a position to progress the opportunity."

It is anticipated that construction of the Nathan Dam and associated pipelines would take nearly three years following finalisation of a Detailed Business Case.

SunWater is committed to providing information about the Nathan Dam and Pipelines Project via the information hotline 1800 158 651 and online.

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