SOUTHERN Downs’ Granite Belt Irrigation Project (GBIP) is continuing its discussions with the Queensland Government and new federal government, as customers of the scheme remain committed to the landmark water infrastructure development.

The 12,000 megalitre dam at Emu Swamp, south-west of Stanthorpe, and 126km of pipeline, will deliver water to almost 50 agribusiness and community customers. The scale and design of the project will also bring wide-reaching social and economic benefits to the region, and state and national economies.

Notably, the GBIP is funded by $23.4 million from local irrigators, the highest proportion of community investment in water infrastructure in Queensland’s history.

GBIP’s operator, Granite Belt Water Limited, CEO, Lloyd Taylor, said while the project was still in the ‘pause’ period of the Go/Stop/Pause milestone, it continues to work with the major stakeholders to progress the development, with strong support from the irrigators involved. 

 “In order to deliver the project, we continue to work closely with both the Australian and Queensland governments in considering work done to date for this vital water infrastructure project and the pause is typical of projects of this size and complexity,” Mr Taylor said.

“Between the Southern Downs Regional Council (SRDC) and irrigators, the annual yield of the 3900ML scheme remains fully subscribed, and those stakeholders are committed to the development of the dam, as it offers a significant opportunity to bolster the water security of the region.

“The project will also generate a substantial number of jobs during construction, as well as long-term full-time positions in agriculture and supporting businesses, helping drive considerable productivity increases.”

In addition to the economic benefits to the region, the SRDC will be using its allocation to supplement the urban water supply for Stanthorpe.

“SRDC is dedicated to the project as it offers an opportunity to secure high-reliable water for the community,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said Queensland’s most experienced builder and operator of rural and regional dams, SunWater, is also taking part in the decision point discussions and providing advice at this critical time.

Other updates include liaising with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads on the road access required for the project once in operation, and the extension of contracts with local landholders to March 2023.

“The local community remains at the heart of this project and we will always be as transparent as possible with the Southern Downs community while we deliver this truly transformational project,” Mr Taylor said.

Community members can receive the most accurate and up-to-date information on the progress of the Project through the Granite Belt Irrigation Project website or can speak directly with the GBIP team by visiting the Project Office at 3/35 Maryland Street, Stanthorpe.