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Gulf water move paves way for North QLD growth & jobs

26 August, 2015

Remote Gulf communities are set to get a jobs boost as the Palaszczuk Government announces the release of thousands of megalitres of water.

Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham released an amended Gulf Water Resource Plan and Gulf Resource Operations Plan.

"This delivers on the Palaszczuk Government's commitment to promote jobs and boost the economies of local communities in Far North Queensland," he said.

"We can now start a competitive tender process to make much-needed water available in Gulf communities to support sustainable farming, rural jobs and local development.

"This will be a tremendous boost for communities like Hughenden, Richmond, Julia Creek, Georgetown and Cloncurry.

"Local businesses will benefit from water releases and the sustainable growth will provide long term employment."

Lynham said amendments to the Gulf Water Resource Plan provided:

  • general unallocated water reserves of 239,650 megalitres in the Flinders River catchment and 467,000 megalitres in the Gilbert River catchment;
  • Indigenous unallocated water reserves of 8500 megalitres in the Flinders River catchment and 17,000 megalitres in the Gilbert River catchment. This water can be granted for projects that advance the social and economic aspirations of indigenous people.

The Gulf water plan area covers about 315,000 square kilometres and is comprised of eight catchments that drain to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Flinders is the largest catchment in the plan area, covering about 109,000 square kilometres.

Lynham said tenders would be called soon for the newly-available water in the Flinders River catchment.

"The Gilbert River catchment reserves will not be made available until after the environmental impact assessment process for the proposed Integrated Food and Energy Developments project in the Gulf has been completed," he said.

Lynham said the water plan changes had involved extensive scientific studies and consultation with local industry representatives, Indigenous groups, councils and local natural resource management groups.

"The amendments to the plan are supported by comprehensive science-based studies by Queensland Government agencies and the CSIRO," he said

"They clearly show water can be made available in the Gulf while sustaining the needs of the environment, commercial fishing industries and existing water users.

"For example, any new water entitlement will have conditions that ensure a specific volume of water reaches the end of the river system during the wet season

"This wet season flow rule will support Gulf of Carpentaria fisheries by ensuring flood flows from January to March each year reach the estuary to support the spawning and growth of prawns and fish.

"It will also support floodplain vegetation, wetlands and the ecosystem functions in the Flinders and Gilbert river catchments," Dr Lynham said.

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