New Dawson River water release good for irrigators

Economic development along the Dawson River will be boosted, benefitting local jobs and businesses, thanks to a new three-year water release from the Dawson River.

Economic development along the Dawson River will be boosted. It will benefit local jobs and businesses, thanks to a new three-year water release from the Dawson River.

Queensland Minister for Water Glenn Butcher said the three-year-only release was good news for irrigators and businesses in the Dawson River catchment, following the successful pilot of this project which commenced in 2019.

“This release offers irrigators certainty for the next three years. It’s not only the irrigators who benefit from the temporary fixed price water release,” he said.

“I’ve spoken with irrigators and been out to the region and seen the benefits of access to this water.

“Jobs are created by expanding agriculture, but there are also extensive benefits to the community from the economic flow-on effects. That includes farm workers spending up in the local shops and businesses,” he said.

“Water is the lifeblood of communities and is at the heart of our regional economies. Making best use of our water resources is important for communities. It can drive good agricultural opportunities that benefit the wider region.”

Interested irrigators will need to make a submission for the water, with up to 90,000 megalitres a year offered over the next three years, following a review of a pilot project initiated in 2019.

Irrigators can progress with water releases

The findings from the pilot project showed that the additional water enabled irrigators to increase the development of newly irrigated land. They will also be able to implement double-cropping techniques for cotton, pulse and grain crops. This has contributed to growing the local economy and creating jobs and benefits for the local community.

Queensland Farmers Federation CEO Jo Sheppard said the release was welcome news for irrigators.

“This release provides an opportunity for the local region to use the water asset for farming production. There are also chances to make a positive contribution to the local economy,” she said.

“Additionally, releasing this water makes good use of an asset that would otherwise be unused if the government had not decided to release it,” Ms Sheppard said.

Releasing water from the Strategic Water Infrastructure Reserve was made possible through legislative amendments to the Water Act 2000 in 2019. These amendments enable water reserved for major infrastructure to be temporarily released to the community for alternative purposes while still being preserved for longer-term strategic use.

“It’s also important to note that while we have decided to release this strategic water reserve it is not at the expense of the environment or existing entitlement holders. Flows will remain to support the health of the river system and our irrigators,” Mr Butcher said.

The pilot program received 15 submissions for the 90,000 megalitres on offer, of which 12 were approved for 69,500 megalitres.

For more information about the release, visit

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