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Make dams when the sun shines so you can store water when the rain falls

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Senator Barnaby Joyce 

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water  Leader of the Nationals in the Senate  Senator for Queensland 


Make dams when the sun shines so you can store water when the rain falls

December 23, 2010 13:38

The Coalition took to the last election a very specific strategy on the construction of dams. The first part was $500 million to be used as seed capital for the purpose of storing, transporting or alleviating the use of water without reducing the average end of valley flows for the Murray River.

On top of this we developed the Infrastructure Partnership Scheme which gave a 10% tax deduction on the returns from strategic nation building infrastructure. If we utilise some of the $1.4 trillion in superannuation funds then the profits would only be taxed at 5 cents in the dollar. This is a real incentive to build real infrastructure that has a commercially viable off load.

Lately, on the Murray Darling tour, I also announced that on winning an election, a panel of engineers would be assigned the task of investigating a range of sites for water projects so as to deliver greater long term security to the water needs in the Murray Darling Basin and other reliable agricultural areas.

Australian engineering must look into the capacity to move water from areas of abundance to areas of requirement. The Burdekin Dam between Mackay and Townsville regularly spills at such a rate that it is expressed as being in excess of 100 percent full and we could be utilising this resource inland without upsetting the balance of the downstream users or the environment.

Private enterprise will pay for the water movement from the Burdekin Dam to Alpha in Central Queensland to supply the Galilee Basin Coalfields - within sight of the range that sheds water into Lake Eyre. A visionary government would get on board with this private money to see if it was possible to enlarge the project and move it further inland to create a vast new agricultural area on the extremely fertile soils near Tambo.

The Nathan Dam on the Dawson River near Taroom will have a capacity of 880,000 mega litres and will move about half the water across the range into the Murray Darling Basin. This water will predominately used for mining. Once more a visionary government would be in negotiation on how we could build a bigger dam to alleviate the water requirements at the top end of the Murray Darling Basin.

CJ Bradfield was a Queensland engineering visionary for our nation. He designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Story Bridge in Brisbane and the inland water scheme in the 1930’s.Unfortunately the final and most important part of his vision was never constructed compromising the wealth of this nation that would have been delivered from this agricultural bounty.

It has been stated that Traveston Dam near the Sunshine Coast was one dam I didn’t support and at the Senate inquiry neither did the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation because it would not have created a dam merely a multi billion dollar swamp. You can’t build a dam on 40 meters of porous material with an average water depth of less than 5 metres on an alluvial flood plain. Further back in the hills there were far more appropriate sites.

Australia not only can, but must have the vision to construct the infrastructure that gives us the capacity to create the agricultural, industrial and mining wealth for our future. If we don’t we only have ourselves to blame at the next drought, not climate change, just our lack of management and foresight. We can not afford a reliance on desalination, we must build dams and we must move water.