Townsville Water Security
Townsville water security aspirations have moved a little closer with the $2.2 million federally funded Hells Gates Dam feasibility study confirming the project’s viability, but the short term cost to Townsville’s economy could have negative impacts on the port city.
The irrigated agriculture and power project is worth $5.35 billion to the Queensland economy. The site of the infrastructure project, on the upper Burdekin River in the Charters Towers district, is competing for funding with inner-Townsville district projects including Stage 2 of the Haughton River pipeline.
“This is a once in a generation project that has the potential to not only shape a prosperous future for Townsville North Queensland but set the direction for the development of Northern Australia.” – Townsville Enterprise.
Federal government funding promised as part the Townsville City Deal for infrastructure is touted to be redistributed to the Charter Towers project. Katter’s Australia Party leader, Bob Katter has issued an ultimatum to the Morrison government to move the bulldozers into Hells Gates by early 2019.
Mayor Jenny Hill is reported to have written directly to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison seeking a reassurance from the federal government that the City Deal funding will be secured in Townsville for vital infrastructure projects, which includes water security and upgrades to rail and port infrastructure, and not diverted to the Hells Gates Dam project.
Regional lobby group
In the North Queensland regional lobby group’s media release, Townsville Enterprise said, “The federal and state government 12-month study, led by SMEC and project managed by Townsville Enterprise, found that construction of a large dam on the upper Burdekin at the Hells Gates site was technically and economically feasible, with no major environmental barriers found.”
“The findings found that the project has the potential to redefine Northern Queensland’s agriculture sector and underpin long term export market growth and investment.”
“If a range of factors, including the development of largescale markets for high value agricultural products are realised, the project could inject billions of dollars into our region, potentially creating an estimated 12,000 jobs during construction and more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs once completed”, Townsville Enterprise said.
Although the economic impact of the project on the Townsville region is likely to have downstream benefits as far as Townsville, the construction jobs and political opportunity this entails, domestic production and operational engineering and management of the national asset are being attributed to the Charter Towers economy.
Townsville Enterprise clarified that “while the study only covered preliminary investigations into the issue of power, it did suggest the potential for a pumped hydro-electricity plant, generating up to 1,200 megawatts of clean, low cost, dispatchable energy.”
“We acknowledge that Hells Gates is a long term vision to develop Northern Australia and that it is not relevant to Townsville’s current water security plans, as this is predominantly an agricultural and power project.
“For a project worth over $5 billion we need to make a strong case for Government and private sector funding including robust environmental and engineering assessments. The next step for a project of this size and scale is a detailed business case, and we will be working with all levels of government towards securing a commitment towards the $25M business case to progress this nation building project.
“This is a once in a generation project that has the potential to not only shape a prosperous future for Townsville North Queensland but set the direction for the development of Northern Australia.
“This could be one of the largest dams in our nation’s history that would fundamentally transform the nature of our economy. We are closer than we have ever been before to make Hells Gates Dam a reality and we will continue driving this project and building off this momentum to ensure it can be delivered to our region.
Click here to view the Hells Gates Dam Feasibility Study Executive Summary.
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