Update – Burnett Water Feasibility Study
Recap of purpose, scope of study and deliverables
Late last year Council announced the commencement of the long awaited $2 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund – Burnett Water Feasibility Study. The study aims to identify the long-term water needs of the region and develop a shortlist of potential options for meeting those needs. It will recommend solutions which have the potential to increase the total volume of water available and/or improve water security for irrigators, businesses and our towns.
This update provides information on recent progress and invites the residents of the South Burnett region to participate in upcoming community sessions to help ensure our water future.
The initial study is a strategic business case which will clarify the challenges and opportunities relating to water and will develop a long list of possible water projects. The draft strategic business case will be available in March 2020. Consultation with major water users has commenced and in late March, Jacobs will consult with the community and all water users on this draft business case to ensure they have the right information and give community members an opportunity to share their knowledge and ideas.
Consultation results, including your views and feedback, will be considered and used to support subsequent development of a preliminary business case, which is intended for completion by July 2020 and represents the conclusion of the currently funded work. This second stage of the study will develop a short-list of preferred options for the North and South Burnett Council areas. In developing the short list, consideration will be given to the technical feasibility, concept design, cost and social, economic and environmental assessments. Further consultation will occur during development of the preliminary business case.
Although it is beyond the scope of the current study, assuming that potentially viable options are identified and funding is available, the next major step would be the development of detailed business cases for one or two shortlisted options from each council area. This process would consider and/or develop engineering designs, construction and operation costings, water pricing, environmental and social matters and details of who would build, own and operate any new infrastructure. Decisions about progressing the detailed business cases will take place once the preliminary business case is completed and the short list of potential options is available.
Update on progress of the project to date
Last year a Steering Committee of the project’s key stakeholders was formed and Jacobs were appointed to undertake this Burnett Water Feasibility Study. In November 2019, Jacobs started working closely with Councils, and major water users, spending several days in the North and South Burnett talking to key stakeholders and visiting farms and potential infrastructure sites, seeking to understand the challenges faced and demand for water based on local knowledge.
Jacobs also has commenced a review of previous studies and is working with SunWater on its long-term water blueprint for the region, which is a concurrent study. Across the region, detailed face-to-face discussions have taken place and Jacobs is considering sites for new weirs, dams and pipelines and other solutions. Initial discussions have been held with berry, citrus, cotton, fodder, nut tree, peanut and other farming enterprises.
In South Burnett, discussions with major water users are underway and will be ongoing until March 2020. To date, Jacobs has held discussions with commercial irrigators in the Barker Barambah Water Supply Scheme and other areas. Further conversations will be held with the Tarong power station, orchardists, duboisia and meat producers and processors outside the Barker Barambah scheme. In North Burnett, Jacobs met with representatives of the Boyne River Scheme and Coalstoun Lakes, amongst others, to gather insights.
Pleasing progress has been made in a short period, however, much work remains to be completed in 2020.
Key next steps: Community consultation dates and locations
A series of public meetings and workshops within our region for all current and future water users is about to commence. All residents and interested parties are invited to a Public Information and Registration Evening to be held at:
Kingaroy: 5:30pm-7pm on Wednesday 12 February 2020 at the Kingaroy RSL
Community consultation meetings to hear from water users and discuss the strategic business case will take place in March as follows:
Murgon: 10am-12pm on Monday 16 March 2020 at the Murgon RSL
Blackbutt: 10am-12pm on Tuesday 17 March 2020 at the Blackbutt Town Hal
Kingaroy: 10am-12pm on Wednesday 18 March 2020 at the Kingaroy Town Hall
After each public meeting, Jacobs will be available to talk to individual water users or groups from 12.30pm to 3.30pm. It is essential that water users register to attend sessions in advance so that the Jacobs team develop a meeting schedule for those wanting to speak to the team 1 on 1.
This consultation builds on the water agenda led by Council in the past few years and follows on from our previous community work on water futures. Further consultation will take place mid-year on the preliminary business case. If it is appropriate for any of the shortlisted options to progress to a detailed business case, further community consultation will take place during that progress, to keep you informed.
Register your interest in participating
The current Burnett Water Feasibility Study could identify options with the potential to transform the economic wellbeing of the South Burnett by bringing us more secure water. However, to ensure success, your input is needed to demonstrate community support. Provision of informed feedback will assist identification of the best options and support the case for possible construction of new water infrastructure in the future.
A key goal of your input is to inform us about how much water you need, where it needs to be delivered, and how it will be used. Council asks that you register your interest by emailing your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Council’s customer service team on (07) 4189 9100.
If you have significant volumes of demand, Jacobs may contact you to organise a face-to-face meeting.
Anyone who takes the positive step of registering their interest in this study should receive email invitations to the program of upcoming consultation meetings.
Thank you for your interest in the Burnett Water Feasibility Study. Council looks forward to your participation and together delivering a great result for the South Burnett region. To stay up to date with the Burnett Water Feasibility Study, please visit Council's website Water Feasibility page.