Granite Belt Queensland, proposed location of Emu Swamp Dam

The Queensland Government has appointed consultants to oversee the final planning stages of Emu Swamp Dam.

National engineering consultancy Premise will oversee final permits and construction tenders on the project, following an advanced release of $6 million to accelerate the process.

The Granite Belt Irrigation Project (GBIP) will deliver a 12,000ML dam at Emu Swamp, south-west of Stanthorpe, and 117km of pipeline to provide water to 51 agribusiness customers and bring wide-reaching benefits to the region.

When operational, the GBIP is expected to create 250 jobs during construction, and 700 new full-time agriculture and supporting jobs in the region which will boost the wellbeing of the local community.

Granite Belt Water CEO, Lloyd Taylor, said the appointment is a major step needed for the project to move through to the tendering stage, and then onto construction contracting.

“A vast amount of work has been done since GBIP planning began in 2007, and we’re working as quickly and as diligently as possible to allow our board and governments to make a final decision on this desperately-needed water project,” Mr Taylor said.

“The work to be completed by Premise puts serious horsepower behind the final steps needed to draw all this information together to obtain necessary government permits and approvals, and to prepare tenders for construction of the dam and pipeline.

“A decision to begin construction is expected in early 2021, and this will be based in large part on the final permits and detailed budgets that will result from this engineering work in coming months.”

Premise Director Patrick Brady said the firm’s Toowoomba regional office will deliver the project and draw on technical expertise from across the company.

“Premise has advanced skills in pipeline and irrigation works and a deep understanding of the challenges associated with delivering infrastructure into regional areas,” Mr Brady said.

“We’re also proudly a regionally-based company with a strong focus on building the strength of local communities and, like for GBIP, it is highly important to us to support local people and businesses throughout this process and to build the skills, capacity and prosperity of the region for the long term.”

Pre-construction activities include confirming contracts to purchase water with irrigators, commencing negotiations with landholders, detailed planning and tendering to cost the project and obtaining necessary construction approvals.

Tenders to construct the dam and provide the pipeline infrastructure will be released in coming months.

Queensland Natural Resources Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, said part of the Queensland Government’s plan for economic recovery from COVID-19 was a $50 billion infrastructure guarantee.

“Bringing forwarding this funding means we can support local businesses and local workers faster,” Dr Lynham said.

The Queensland Government has committed to drought assistance measures for the Southern Downs and Granite Belt region.

This includes:

  • $13.6 million to kick-start the new Emu Swamp Dam
  • Nearly $4 million replacing pipelines between Storm King Dam and Mount Marley Water Treatment Plant
  • $950,000 to the Southern Downs Regional Council to progress water security projects related to new and rejuvenated bores and fixing leaks in the reticulation system
  • $800,000 a month to truck water into Stanthorpe
  • $600,000 in freight subsidies
  • $300,000 in Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Assistance to 56 producers
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