Emu Swamp dam plan scrutinised

AFTER two decades in limbo, the Emu Swamp Dam project was yesterday scrutinised by Senator Barnaby Joyce - and he was impressed.

The Coalition Dams and Water Management Task Group - of which Senator Joyce is the deputy chairman - visited the Granite Belt for a presentation given by Cr Vic Pennisi and a bus and fly-over tour of the site.

"This is the sharpest presentation we have had throughout the process," Senator Joyce said.

Group chairman Andrew Robb MP said he and other members travelled around the country for a couple of days at a time for the past 15 months to inspect potential sites for dam infrastructure.

Mr Robb said the Emu Swamp Dam project would be included in a draft report to be finalised in about six months and eventually end up as policy to be taken to the next election.

"This project has a lot going for it but it is in the mix with a lot of others," he said.

He said comparatively speaking, the total investment needed for the dam - previously estimated to cost about $80 million - was "not a huge amount".

Rate payers could be slugged about 40 per cent of that.

Cr Pennisi said he had a raised a family in the time he had been working to secure more water for food producers in the region.

He said there was an immediate need to obtain water allocation titles which were held by State Government but had been committed to the Granite Belt.

"We need to make sure we secure that allocation sitting in limbo," Cr Pennisi said.

He said there would be environmental issues surrounding Emu Swamp and finding opportunities to offset that would not be easy.

"My personal view, and it is my personal view, is this will be a political decision," he said.

Previous estimates put the cost at about $80 million with rate payers tipped to chip in about up to $30 million.

Cr Pennisi said an option for a Petrie Crossing Rd site at Broadwater could cost rate payers $5 million less but would only provide an urban supply, with irrigators missing out.

After a long slog looking at potential dam sites Senator Joyce said Stanthorpe was the group's last stop.

"In life you remember your first girlfriend and your last girlfriend and this is the last place we are going to visit before we write the report," he said.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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