A LEAKED copy of the draft Wide Bay Burnett Regional Water Supply Strategy has outlined plans to send 6000 megalitres of water a year to Hervey Bay.
According to the draft plan, the water would be sent via a pipeline from the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme to water treatment plants at either Burgowan or Howard by 2015.
The proposal echoes a document released by Andrew McNamara, former Member for Hervey Bay and Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, who suggested a $100 million pipeline from Paradise Dam to Hervey Bay.
Mr McNamara’s water plan was released in January last year, before he was defeated in state elections by former Hervey Bay Mayor Ted Sorensen.
But Member for Hinkler Paul Neville has described the plans outlined in the leaked Wide Bay water strategy as a “quick fix” to cover up failures in government planning.
“We’ve had to live through the Traveston Crossing Dam saga and now we’re faced with another shemozzle which looks suspiciously like a re-hash of the Andrew McNamara Water Plan,” Mr Neville said.
“This region is a key food producer, and the Burnett/Kolan farming community made significant financial contributions to the scheme — and gave up its existing water rights — on the absolute assurance of ongoing water security. Now Labor wants to rip that security away.”
Mr Neville said there was a time when governments had to build dams appropriate for expanding infrastructure.
“One of the worst features of what the government is doing is that it’s draining regional water supplies to service the south east corner,” he said.
“Bear in mind that planning is already under way to pipe water from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane as a back-up for the capital city, but the water will only pump one way — to Brisbane.
“If it can happen to the Sunshine Coast, it can happen to the Wide Bay Burnett.”
Grower and former Isis Shire Mayor Bill Trevor lobbied for the dam throughout the 1990s in hope that it would provide a secure water source for the region’s cane and vegetable growers.
He said growers in the area had been working towards a water supply scheme, including the construction of a dam, since the 1960s.
“At the time when the dam was being lobbied for and considered by government, the water was only to go as far south as Childers,” Mr Trevor said.
“Growers put in reticulation and built their businesses and families in the area, expecting 100% allocations from the dam — but they never got it. It is morally bereft of the government to even consider putting in a pipeline when growers are not getting 100% allocations.”
He said business, industry and employment opportunities in the Bundaberg and Isis regions came under threat every year that the allocations were not 100%.
“If growers were on 100% allocations and there was water left over, we would gladly let them have it, but it’s a bit rich when you’re not getting your allocation to see it taken elsewhere,” he said.
Canegrower Isis manager Wayne Stanley said growers were struggling to get water security, but should not have to pay extra to boost a low allocation.
“Irrigators have not purchased the 100,000 ML of water allocation of Paradise Dam water for sale, because they don’t believe they should buy more allocation just to supplement the water they are not receiving,” he said.