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Urannah dam 'not viable', pursuit is 'beyond bizarre'

Greens candidate for Mirani Christine Carilisle doesn't understand why the major parties continue to push the Urannah Dam project.
Greens candidate for Mirani Christine Carilisle doesn't understand why the major parties continue to push the Urannah Dam project.

URANNAH Dam will never be built because people wouldn't be able to pay for the water in it, Greens candidate for Mirani Christine Carlisle said yesterday.

As the two major parties race to start the 18th study into the proposed dam, Mrs Carlisle said previous reports showed the project didn't stack up financially.

"The cost benefit analysis showed people won't ever be able to pay for it or it would have to be highly subsidised.

"I wouldn't think the mines would even pay for (the water)," she said.

If completed, the dam is supposed to irrigate up to 30,000ha of land creating a new food bowl while also supplying enough water to Bowen Basin mines.

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Since 1967, Queensland Irrigation and Water Supply, Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, Mackay Tourism, the State Government, Department of Natural Resources, Bowen Collinsville Enterprise and Sunwater have completed studies into the dam.

That latest was in 2016, commissioned by Mackay Conservation Group, a group of which Mrs Carlisle is a member. The key finding from that report was that for every dollar spent building the $780million project just 75 cents of economic benefit would be returned.

That report went over the past 17 studies into proposed dam, west of the Clarke range behind Eungella.

The concept of damming Urannah, to create a 1.5 million megalitre water source, was first championed by former Bowen mayor and Queensland Attorney-General Peter Delmonthe in the 1960s.

"Barnaby Joyce tried to breathe life into Urannah Dam during the 2016 Federal election in an effort to get votes," Mrs Carlisle said.

"Tim Nicholls is trying to resuscitate the same zombie in the State election, offering $10million of Queensland money if the Federal Government will give another $10million for an Environmental Impact Study.

"Do they not understand, or have they run out of ideas?. Regurgitating this proposal over and over is beyond bizarre."

But both ALP and LNP members believe now is the time to start construction on the dam which is expected to create a new food bowl and provide water security for Bowen Basin coal mines.

The ALP is currently trying to bring in Sunwater to bring the project back to life after it was stalled by "irreconcilable differences" between Bowen Collinsville Enterprise, Urannah Properties Association and Initiative Capital - the consortium entrusted to drive the project.

The LNP has promised to better the ALP's stalled efforts and start the study within 100 days of forming government if they win the November 25 election and then chip in $10million for the environmental impact statement.

Both of the major parties agree a feasibility study is needed before construction could start on the dam and didn't take the Mackay Conservation Group's report seriously.

"I would take their report with a grain of salt," Labor candidate for Burdekin Mike Brunker said.

"The Greens had a flat 'no dams' policy and would have been against the Wivenhoe and Burdekin Falls Dams when they were proposed, dams which built Queensland.

"If you remember the last time the mining industry ran out of water, a pipeline was built from the Burdekin to Moranbah but by the time they got it there it was over capacity because it had more users wanting water than it could supply," he said.

But Jason Costigan, Member for Whitsunday, which is home to some of the proposed dam, said he would send bulldozers in to start construction "yesterday".

"Of course it stacks up," he said.

"It'd be almost three-quarters the size of the Burdekin Falls Dam as we know it today and more than three times the size of the Peter Faust Dam up near Proserpine."

Topics:  alp christine carlisle electionmackay2017 jason costigan lnp mackayelection2017 mackay news mike brunker news mackay qldelection2017 state election the greens urannah urannah dam


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