Urannah Creek, site of the proposed Urannah Dam, west of Mackay.
Urannah Creek, site of the proposed Urannah Dam, west of Mackay.

Urannah to deliver $2 return for every $1 spent: proponent

The proponent behind a “nation-building” Mackay region water scheme says the project will deliver at least a $2 return to taxpayers for every $1 the government invests in it.

Bowen River Utilities recently completed the draft detailed business case for the water scheme supporting Urannah Dam’s construction.

BRU is currently consulting with stakeholders on the findings before publicly releasing the final draft business case later this month.

The draft business case supports building the 970,000 megalitre dam, which is set to deliver an annual yield of 103,000 megalitres of high priority water.

BRU said the project’s new pipeline to Moranbah would deliver reliable water to customers in the Bowen Basin and a pipeline corridor to Peter Faust Dam would future-proof water security for the Whitsunday region.

It would come with a 0.95 benefit cost ratio.

The proponent said the enabling water infrastructure would ensure that for every $1 the government invested in the entire project, at least $2 would return to the taxpayer.

The Bowen renewable energy hub to be co-located with Urannah Dam has a generation capacity of 1.4GW and eight hours of storage.

The close location to the grid would allow 50,000 Queensland households to access firm green power.

BRU director John Cotter said extensive work had been undertaken to reach this important milestone.

“Our project team has worked tirelessly on the detailed business case because we understand how water can transform a region and we are committed to seeing the potential of North Queensland realised,” Mr Cotter said.

“The sums have been done, numbers have been crunched and ultimately the DBC shows that the Urannah Water Scheme stacks up.”

But Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Peter McCallum said the group had “very serious concerns” around calculations of the dam’s benefits.

“We’ve hired an independent economist to review the preliminary business case, that economist found there would only be 26 cents in benefits for every $1 of costs,” Mr McCallum said.

“Farmers we’ve spoken to in the lower Burdekin have said they’re very concerned about Urannah Dam going ahead because they are concerned about the problems that could arise from less flow going down Burdekin River if this goes ahead.

“They are also concerned about groundwater recharge that occurs when there’s flooding.”

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Urannah Dam is expected to create 1200 construction jobs, 650 ongoing jobs and unlock the potential of 70 local projects that require water.

“Water security can unlock the potential of the north and ensure there are jobs for future generations while also building Australia’s sovereign capability,” Mr Cotter said.

Comments on the draft terms of reference for the environmental impact statement closed on January 29.

The State Government’s co-ordinator-general will finalise this once all public and agency comments have been considered.

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