Wide Bay Burnett has a diverse economy and is a relatively large region underpinned by a strong agricultural and manufacturing industry base. Its economic outlook is also linked to a number of sectors like tourism, construction and services as well as emerging trade opportunities including minerals. Further, it is believed the regions strong agricultural base is well positioned to support potential future diversification opportunities including bio-futures.
The Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils (WBBROC) recently identified ‘water for economic development’ as a priority project, and many private proponents and individual Councils have expressed the challenges faced in availing of water to support solid industry development and growth.
The Department of State Development has engaged Marsden Jacob Associates – working with OD Hydrology and Groundwater Assessment and Solutions – to undertake this scope study. The study will involve an assessment of the current and emerging demand for water, key business opportunities and the limitations of existing water supply sources relevant to these opportunities, are critical elements of the study.
Relevant are the potential integrated agricultural projects in the Region which have been submitted to the Federal Government for funding under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF). These projects predominantly encompass expanded or new irrigation use and represent significant opportunities for the Region.
An assessment of the current operation of the water market is also to be undertaken. The water market for this study refers to existing water entitlements and strategic reserves provided by the Water Resource Plan relevant to the Study area.
In the event water needs cannot be met by improved water use efficiency, reuse, reallocation, water trading. Further the Study will provide supporting information for potential further investigation into new water infrastructure (dams, weirs, pipelines, inter-basin transfers) that may be deemed necessary to support regional growth opportunities.
Essentially, the Study will:
- identify the volume and location/accessibility of surface water, groundwater, overland flow and wastewater available in the Wide Bay region. This will involve a review of the current water entitlements, historical levels of use, current water use efficiencies, volumes available for water trading, and the volumes of unallocated water reserves available for new development. It will also involve an assessment of the volume of any water available from waste water treatment plants;
- identify the opportunities and barriers to further development of the region. This will incorporate: an assessment of the regions’ comparable advantages and disadvantages including physical and environmental constraints; the effectiveness of the water market in meeting the new and emerging water needs (including any impediments);
- undertake a Water Demand Assessment and a separate Market Assessment. The Demand Assessment will determine current and emerging demand for water, including what is currently capable of being supplied in the Study area. Also relevant will be an assessment of the regional water infrastructure capabilities against current, probable and possible future demand scenarios as well as providing a methodology to guide the possible prioritisation of water infrastructure development.
The scoping study is being led by: Rod Carr, Rick Stankiewicz and Peter Jacob