‘Monster’ dam plan taking steps forward
WITHIN the next five years the Granite Belt could be blessed with more water than it knows what to do with.
Not only has there been progress on Emu Swamp Dam, with construction expected to begin mid-2020, Mole River Dam plans are advancing too.
The dam just south of the state line in NSW, much like Emu Swamp Dam, has been touted for decades.
But with the Federal Government and NSW State Government kicking in $24 million to jump start the plan, engineering and environmental advisers have been appointed.
SMEC, previously Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, has been engaged by WaterNSW to start the process.
"The projects have all commenced preliminary environmental investigations and
concept designs, with geotechnical investigations to begin in April," NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said while discussing Mole River Dam and two other dam projects.
"We are focused on delivering these critical projects to significantly improve future drought resilience and improve water security," she said.
Mole River Dam, once built, is expected to have up to a 200 gigalitre capacity and will monster Emu Swamp Dam in size.
It's for that reason that initial plans propose implementing a pipeline from the dam west of Tenterfield, to Stanthorpe and potentially as far north as Dalby.
"What a wonderful place we could be in, with so much water, if that were the case," Brent Finlay said.
Mr Finlay, the former National Farmers Federation president, who has helped Emu Swamp Dam become reality, is acting in an 'unofficial advisory' role on the Mole River project.
Mr Finlay said he's in regular contact with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack about the plans.
"We have regions in northern NSW and southeast Queensland so badly impacted by drought so we need to change that so it doesn't happen again in the future.
"We need large infrastructure projects.
"Emu Swamp Dam will certainly benefit the Granite Belt and Southern Downs.
"However, if there's potential there to bring more water to the region for urban use, but also for potential commercial water to be made available for agriculture, that's a good thing.
"We need water and we need new water. It's (Mole River Dam) a good story for this region as well.
"We rarely, in rural and regional communities, get the opportunity to build things like this," Mr Finlay said.
Southern Downs Regional Council mayor Vic Pennisi is supportive of the plan.
"In principal I support all dams because it's new water for the area," Cr Pennisi said.
Mole River Dam is expected to cost approximately $355 million and community consultation will commence imminently.