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    Minister for Energy and Water Supply
    The Honourable Mark McArdle

    Local management channels need strong support

    Minister for Energy and Water Supply
    The Honourable Mark McArdle

    Wednesday, October 02, 2013

    Local management channels need strong support

    Minister for Water Supply Mark McArdle has thrown his support behind local irrigators during a meeting with the Chair of the Burdekin-Haughton Interim Board, Mr Mario Barbagallo, in Townsville.

    Mr McArdle reiterated the criteria for local management of Queensland’s eight irrigation channels to succeed, highlighting the importance of proposals that are well-supported and are in the best interests of irrigators and government.

    “Mario is one of eight interim board chairs who have taken up my invitation to lead a thorough investigation into the option of transferring irrigation assets, currently run by SunWater, to local irrigators,” Mr McArdle said.

    “We are expecting the interim boards to provide us with robust financial cases which demonstrate that the channels can be run by locals sustainably into the long term. In addition, to be successful their proposals must have strong customer support.”

    The Burdekin-Haughton channel scheme has almost 400kms of channels, 13 pump stations, and around 370kms of drains.

    Mr Barbagallo said as soon as the interim board has incorporated information from the engineering due diligence report into a financial model, it will be in a position to provide a range of scenarios for discussion with customers.

    “Our interim board believes that there is likely to be substantial efficiencies to be gained by running the scheme from the Burdekin instead of Brisbane but we need the engineering report to verify the condition of the assets and to quantify the cost of managing the system,” Mr Barbagallo said.

    “In addition, we believe that Local management will allow for holistic and sustainable management of the irrigation area, which should dovetail into the Governments objective of increasing agricultural production.”

    Independent Chair of the Local Management Working Group, Ms Leith Boully, said engagement with scheme customers is critical.

    “A meaningful engagement process with scheme customers requires information from the engineering due diligence report to be included into a financial model so customers can properly weigh up the management scenarios prepared by the interim board.” Ms Boully said.

    The other seven channel schemes being considered for local management are, Bundaberg, Emerald, Eton, Lower Mary, Mareeba-Dimbulah, St George and Theodore.

    [ENDS] 2 October 2013

    Media Contact: Natalie Wynne 0437 334 183