BIG PLANS: Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash, LNP candidate for Maranoa David Littleproud and Councillor Vic Pennisi at the proposed Emu Swamp Dam site.
BIG PLANS: Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash, LNP candidate for Maranoa David Littleproud and Councillor Vic Pennisi at the proposed Emu Swamp Dam site. Megan Sheehan

Farmer says dam plans have already 'cost too much'

EMU Swamp Dam will again be discussed before a Southern Downs Regional Council meeting this week.

While progress could be imminent, one Pike Creek farmer who's long been involved with plans for the region's water security believes too much time and money has already been spent on the proposed project.

John Pratt is a stonefruit grower and has been on the Stanthorpe Community Water Reference Panel for about 16 years.

He said while something had to be done to secure the region's water supply into the future, he wasn't convinced Emu Swamp Dam was the best option.

"I agree we've got to have a more reliable storage for the town supply and for irrigation on the Granite Belt, but there's got to be a cheaper quicker way of doing it as this has taken far too long and is rapidly becoming unaffordable,” Mr Pratt said.

Mr Pratt said water was allocated to industry in the Accommodation and Pike Creek catchments in the initial draft of the water play.

He said this water was unlikely to be released until the storage issues around Emu Swamp were resolved.

He said the water allocated to these two catchments should have been released ten years ago, would have resulted in the employment of about 80 people and improved the viability of many properties.

Mr Pratt said in the reference panel's early sittings a proposal to build a series of weirs and off-stream storages for irrigation had a significant amount of support.

He said the option of raising the wall of Storm King Dam or building a second storage above Stanthorpe had also been met with support.

"I've always believed that building a single major storage in lower reaches of the system and pumping water to the upper reaches would result in the water being prohibitively expensive without being heavily subsidised,” Mr Pratt said.

While he didn't agree with the concept for a major, single water storage facility like Emu Swamp Dam, Mr Pratt commended the panel members including councillor Vic Pennisi and Stephen Tancred for their "tenacity and commitment” to water security on the Granite Belt.

In the meantime, Mr Pratt said he kept high hopes the water allocations to the Accommodation and Pike Creek catchments could be released soon.

"Whichever way the decision goes on Emu Swamp Dam we must ensure that we don't lose the 4500 megalitre allocation to our district and get it benefiting the district as soon as possible,” he said.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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