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    Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland
    The Honourable Craig Wallace

    CALL FOR PUBLIC INPUT INTO BURDEKIN, GULF AND MITCHELL WATER PLANS

    Minister for Natural Resources and Water and Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland
    The Honourable Craig Wallace

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    CALL FOR PUBLIC INPUT INTO BURDEKIN, GULF AND MITCHELL WATER PLANS

    24 October 2008

    Minister for Natural Resources and Water Craig Wallace today called for public submissions on resource plans for three important river systems – the Burdekin, Gulf, and Mitchell river systems.

    The Draft Resource Operations Plans (ROPs) for the Burdekin Basin, the Gulf and the Mitchell water planning areas were released today and will secure existing water supplies and provide for the regions’ growth by introducing water trading to drive efficiency and innovation in water use.

    Mr Wallace said the release of these three ROPs meant comprehensive planning to ensure the security of water resources in Queensland is under way or has been completed for more than 92 per cent of the State.

    “One of the key initiatives to come out of the community meetings recently held in north Queensland on Q2 Tomorrow was the need for better planning and the sustainable use of our resources.

    “The Queensland Government has set five goals under the Toward Q2: Tomorrow’s Queensland initiative. These draft Resource Operations Plans for the Burdekin Basin, the Gulf and the Mitchell supports two of these ideals which are to promote a strong and green Queensland.

    “The three draft plans include provisions for the release of identified reserves of unallocated water,” he said.

    “The draft Burdekin ROP establishes reserves of unallocated water for future infrastructure on the Bowen-Broken river system that would primarily be for future industrial use and for a two-metre raising of the Burdekin Falls Dam.”

    “However, growth within these regions will first be addressed by efficiency gains from existing water supplies, through the introduction of water trading,” he said.

    “These draft plans set out the necessary arrangements for implementing requirements of water resource plans finalised for the areas in the latter part of 2007. These complementary plans are developed with comprehensive input from the community and assessments of social, economic and environmental factors.”

    “In conjunction, they will ensure that current uses and the emerging opportunities that will shape future prosperity in the three plan areas are provided for in a timely fashion.”

    “The provisions have been appropriately structured to recognise how water resources have contributed to the growth and character of each area. The draft plans will ensure that each community can build on its existing successes while promoting the efficiency and innovation that is essential for sustainable water resource management.”

    Mr Wallace said key outcomes of the planning process include improved specification for entitlements in all three areas, and the conversion of entitlements to tradable allocations, as titled assets separated from land, in the Burdekin and Gulf plan areas.

    “Water trading has demonstrated its potential for promoting ongoing efficiency in many parts of the state where ROPs are complete,” Mr Wallace said. “The end users own the allocations and retain the benefit of any water savings they make. Surpluses can be sold, fostering additional efficiencies with the market also supporting new, high value uses.

    “Tradable water allocations will be able to be bought and sold in the Burdekin, Haughton and Bowen-Broken water supply scheme areas, as well as the Mount Isa region.

    “The Burdekin Basin Draft Resource Operation Plan deals with water in watercourses, lakes, springs and overland flow water.

    “The Gulf and Mitchell Draft Resource Operation Plans deal with water in watercourses, lakes, springs, groundwater that is not connected to the Great Artesian basin, and overland flow water.

    “The community and key stakeholders were consulted throughout the Plans’ development to ensure community needs and aspirations were considered. The Draft Plans are now open for public scrutiny and comment prior to finalisation on 30 January 2009.

    “The Draft Plans provide a solid base for managing water to sustain the many elements that contribute to the regional lifestyle of North Queensland and Far North Queensland.

    “While the needs of towns, agriculture and industry are important, so too are the needs of the natural environment, which also contributes to regional prosperity.”

    Further information on the draft plans can be found at www.nrw.qld.gov.au/wrp/gulf, www.nrw.qld.gov.au/wrp/mitchell or www.nrw.qld.gov.au/burdekin


    Media contact: Minister Wallace’s office, 3896 3688.