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JUST WEIR-D: Premier accused of $500m mistake

One failed wet season could lead to Rockhampton running out of water.
One failed wet season could lead to Rockhampton running out of water.

QUEENSLANDERS face a $500 million bill to pay for 600 B-double trucks to transport water into central Queensland every day unless a weir is built, an explosive report kept secret by the State Government reveals.

A shock business case for Rookwood Weir warns Rockhampton and nearby towns could run out of water from just one "failed wet season", raising questions why the State Government repeatedly refuses Malcolm Turnbull's offer to build the weir.

The Prime Minister yesterday accused the Premier of being "beholden to an inner-city Green-Left agenda that doesn't like dams".

A few facts on Rockhampton's Rookwood Weir and what the dam could mean for local residents and businesses.
A few facts on Rockhampton's Rookwood Weir and what the dam could mean for local residents and businesses.

Sources told The Courier-Mail that Mr Turnbull had pledged to fund the entire project in a meeting with Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier this year.

Asked in north Queensland yesterday if there had been any progress on the Rookwood Weir business case, the Premier said: "No, not at the moment."

The 229-page Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project report, exclusively obtained by The Courier-Mail, was commissioned by State Government-owned corporation, the Gladstone Area Water Board. It implores the Government to build the weir and soon, advising it is the cheapest way to secure water for the region.

PM Malcolm Turnbull pledged to fund the entire project.
PM Malcolm Turnbull pledged to fund the entire project.

The report was handed to the State Government on October 27, which was two days before the election was called.

However, Building Queensland, which provides the State Government with independent advice on major infrastructure, provided its assessment in September.

Rockhampton's main source of water is the Fitzroy Barrage storage, which is heavily reliant on regular seasonal inflows, including the annual wet season, to maintain supply.

The report flagged water would have to be trucked in from Awoonga Dam if there was not enough water.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk continually refuses the offer for financial help from PM Malcolm Turnbull.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk continually refuses the offer for financial help from PM Malcolm Turnbull.

"Building Queensland estimated ... a total cost for five months' emergency supply at $486 million, while noting that there were doubts over the feasibility of this solution,'' the report said.

"Gladstone Area Water Board's position is that this solution is not feasible at the required scale (and) the logistics involved are daunting.

"(It would mean) 4000 daily B-double movements of a 260km round trip.

"Working 24 hours, seven days and assuming a filling, travel, delivery and return travel time of only 3.5-4 hours, a fleet of at least 600 B-doubles would be required.

"The as-yet unidentified filling point(s) and delivery point(s), and the regional road network would need to be able to accommodate the constant movement of 300 B-doubles in each direction between Rockhampton and Awoonga, ie approximately two departures per minute."

The report revealed power could become more expensive for Queenslanders because Stanwell power station might need to reduce its water use during severe water restrictions.

"Rockhampton's continued reliance on a single source is particularly risky because that source is uniquely vulnerable to low inflows,'' the report said.

"The characteristics of the barrage storage and the Fitzroy flows, combined with Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast's demand, mean the storage is insufficient to make sure supply can survive a single failed wet season.

"In the event of a period of low rainfall, such as a failed wet season, Rockhampton has no means to respond with demand management measures or contingent water supply arranges and instead is likely to experience a complete supply failure."

The report also pointed to a boom for the agricultural sector because more water meant more crops.

Topics:  editors picks gladstone rockhampton water



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