IT'S BEEN touted for more than 20 years but it now appears that the Nathan Dam, located near the Nathan Gorge between Taroom and Theodore is set to proceed.
Key partners in the Nathan Dam and Pipelines Project hosted a series of information sessions in the affected areas with workshops held in Taroom and Theodore last Saturday.
Representatives from SunWater and SKM Consultants, the developers of the EIS, addressed questions and issues from residents and irrigators potentially affected by the proposed dam.
Banana Shire Councillor Vaughn Becker was present at the Taroom presentation while Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige and Councillors David Snell, Nev Ferrier and Maureen Clancy attended the Theodore session, eager to hear how the dam and pipeline may affect residents of both Taroom and Theodore.
One of the main concerns raised at both sessions was the potential impact of the dam construction on another one-in-100-year flood like that experienced by both towns in January 2011.
Kirrily Addison, SunWater's project manager for the Nathan Dam and Pipelines Project addressed these concerns.
"The 2010/11 flood is considered a larger than a one-in-100-year event," she said.
"However, in the case of a one-in-100-year flood event, the construction of the dam would increase flood levels in Taroom by up to 50cm whilst still remaining below planning levels, while the one-in-100-year flood levels in Theodore would drop around 50cm."
The Theodore session was attended by several irrigators, concerned about the security of current water allocations and water pricing.
Dawson River irrigator Greg Hutchinson said the session was worthwhile in answering several of his questions.
However he still had grave concerns for the viable future of irrigators along the Dawson.
"The EIS gave a minor level of security that current water allocations will be upheld but the development of the dam and pipeline project is still in its infancy and subject to huge changes depending on what major stakeholders require and future government policy," he said.
Mr Hutchinson said it was essential that anyone potentially affected by the construction of the Nathan Dam and the provision of the water from the Dawson to high priority sectors such as mining and power stations submit their concerns to SunWater.
"There are many more questions than answers at present."
He said the development of the dam would have a positive impact on the region and should give irrigators better reliability with regard to their water allocations.
"Concerns remain as to what impact the dam with have on existing users after a series of dry years.
"In the past a small flow in the river has meant the difference between harvesting a crop or having a failure.
"In the future this water will be allocated to the high priority mining and industrial sector at the expense of existing irrigators."
The Nathan Dam and Pipelines Project EIS can be viewed at sunwater.com.au.