Growers fear Paradise Dam plunder

BUNDABERG growers’ groups fear Paradise Dam may be plundered to supply water to other regions, following the recent knockback of Traveston Dam.

The groups united with Bundaberg Regional Council to send a letter to Premier Anna Bligh asking for consultation to ensure the dam, north-west of Biggenden, would be used to supply only the local region.

Even if the dam is not used to supply Queensland’s crowded south-east corner, there are still concerns it could be used to supplement water needs in other areas such as Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Gympie.

Canegrowers Isis manager Wayne Stanley said the isssue was a question of security of water for the region.

“Hervey Bay and Maryborough need water. But there is conclusive proof that Paradise Dam (water) is needed here for irrigation, urban and industrial uses,” he said.

“If we were on 100% of allocation and there was still surplus water, we wouldn’t be arguing.

“But if the government cannot give us more than 50% allocation from the current water, why should we be sharing?”

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers executive officer Peter Peterson said his members were very worried about water security following the announcement Traveston Dam was not going ahead.

“The issue about water leaving the district is a major concern and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Mr Peterson said.

He said his organisation, along with the council and Canegrowers’ Bundaberg and Isis branches, were united in their concerns that the dam’s water had to remain here.

“We need to understand what the state government plans are,” he said.

Bundaberg Canegrowers chairman Allan Dingle said, with the damming of the Mary River not going ahead, there would still be an issue down the track with Queensland having a water shortage.

He believed the state government would be forced to consider existing water infrastructure.

“(Federal Environment Minister) Peter Garrett has made it impossible to build another dam. He has set a precedent,” Mr Dingle said.

Bundaberg Region Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said she hoped to secure an appointment to talk to the premier or one of her ministers about the future of the dam.

“We really wanted to request the opportunity to start a dialogue,” Cr Pyefinch said.

Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson released the final draft of the 50-year South East Queensland Water Strategy on November 20.

The plan, which outlines how water will be supplied to the south-east corner during the next 50 years, has not identified Paradise Dam as a suitable site for detailed investigation.

However, the draft plan was released just days after Mr Garrett provisionally rejected the Traveston Dam proposal. It was officially turned down this week.

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