Multi-million-dollar irrigation project saves water for growth

Published Tuesday, 25 January, 2022 at 09:02 AM

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water
The Honourable Glenn Butcher


The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development

Senator Susan McDonald

Senator for Queensland

Special Envoy for Northern Australia

A $32.54 million efficiency project to enhance water delivery to more than 17,000 hectares of Far North Queensland farmland has been completed.

The Mareeba-Dimbulah Efficiency Improvement Project, undertaken by Sunwater, was jointly funded – with the Australian Government contributing $11.6 million through the National Water Grid Fund and the Queensland Government contributing $20.94 million.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the project has upgraded key water infrastructure so that more of the precious resource will go to growers in the Atherton Tablelands.

“This project will increase access to reliable water across the region and deliver a major boost to local growers, generating around $20 million per year in increased agricultural production,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Securing water access is game-changing for our farmers and their communities, as it creates jobs, wealth and a stronger agricultural sector.

“That is why the Australian Government is investing $3.5 billion in projects just like this under our 10-year rolling plan for vital water infrastructure across the country, providing a long-term strategy to build the dams, weirs and pipelines that our agricultural and regional communities need and deserve.”

Queensland Water Minister Glenn Butcher said the project will save up to 8,306 megalitres of high-value water through new modernised infrastructure, which will reduce losses and improve service reliability to growers.

“As Queensland’s Minister for Water, I am thrilled to see this project finalised and even happier the construction component of these water-saving works provided jobs for 18 Queenslanders,” Minister Butcher said.

“Queensland’s vital agricultural sector stands to benefit, as growers will be able to better service a variety of crops, including sugar cane, bananas, mangoes, avocados, coffee, tea trees and vegetables.

“Thanks to this project, $20 million of which was funded by this Queensland Government, water will now be delivered to the region based on demand, which we know will improve reliability and maximise the amount available to growers.”

Senator for Queensland and Special Envoy for Northern Australia Susan McDonald said the project replaced and installed 14 kilometres of pipeline, installed 125 automated control gates in irrigation channels, and upgraded 157 water offtakes.

“I am pleased to see this vital project complete and ready to benefit locals,” Senator McDonald said.

“This forms part of the Australian Government’s unwavering commitment to secure Australia’s water future – including in North and Far North Queensland.

“We have already committed nearly $500 million to water infrastructure projects in North and Far North Queensland that will not only increase water security in established agricultural areas but also unlock agricultural opportunities in new regions, backing our economy, exports and job creation.”

State Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the infrastructure is critical in securing the future for growers in the electorate.

“I understand the importance of water security for our region and the Mareeba-Dimbulah Efficiency Improvement Project will give growers confidence that they will receive reliable water supply and improved service delivery,” Ms Lui said.

The broader efficiency project highlights Sunwater’s ability to carry out complex modernisation projects that have tangible outcomes for customers.

The new automated channel gates measure and regulate water flow, which will subsequently improve the supply scheme’s ability to meet grower demand, as well as make more water available.

With construction now complete, the process to validate water savings is underway. Once the savings are confirmed, new water allocations will be made available for sale.

The Australian Government’s funding is being provided through the National Water Grid Fund, which is paving the way to national water security, while promoting economic activity and job creation.

For more information on the National Water Grid Fund, visit

Media contacts:

Deputy Prime Minister – Antony Perry | 0477 971 654 |

Minister Butcher – Emilia Hutchinson | 0419 303 693 |