Mixed reaction to Qld Government releasing Great Artesian Basin water

News the Queensland Government will soon release water from the Great Artesian Basin has received a mixed response.

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham has announced more than 18,000 megalitres of water will be available to boost industry and help drought-affected producers across Queensland.

The Great Artesian Basin underlies more than 1.7 million square kilometres of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory, and stores about 64,000 million megalitres of water.

About 70 per cent of the basin underlies Queensland.

Mr Lynham said the water would be prioritised to support rural and agricultural industries.

"The Palaszczuk Government is planning to make available up 18,200 megalitres of unallocated, general reserve water," he said.

"Expressions of interest will open this week for competitive tenders.

"The release of unallocated water will provide targeted support to rural and agricultural industries including irrigated stock feed, hay production and sorghum cropping.

"It will help drive regional development and rural industry jobs, and support basin communities through this ongoing drought."

The announcement has prompted mixed reactions.

Grazier welcomes water announcement

Grazier David Brook, from Lorne station near Aramac in central Queensland, has welcomed the announcement.

After fighting for a water licence to irrigate crops at his property to help drought-proof his cattle business this year, he said it had been a long time coming.

If we are looking at being responsible, we need to have some water quality tests for a start, and there needs to be some conditions associated with how much water is applied.
Tom Crothers, water consultant

"It is wonderful news. I can hardly believe it because I really thought it was never going to happen," Mr Brook said.

"We would definitely be interested in it.

"It is something we have been trying to get onto for so long, it will be something we will have a crack at.

"Whether we do any good or we can afford it is another thing, but at least it has opened up and everyone can have a go at it."

Warning release may impact basin health

However, water consultant and former state government bureaucrat Tom Crothers said the water release may threaten the health of the basin.

"I think we have got to be very careful not to open the gates again and start to undermine the fantastic work that has been done over the last 15 years (through the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative)," he said.

"I think you can release some water for irrigation, but I think there needs to be come caveats on that.

"If we are looking at being responsible, we need to have some water quality tests for a start, and there needs to be some conditions associated with how much water is applied," Mr Crothers said.

"I know some people are desperate out there and they won't want to hear me saying we have got to be careful, but if we are really looking out for future generations we have got to manage both our soil and our water resources for the long term."

Source: ABC Rural News

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