FULL STEAM AHEAD: Sunwater's John Kelly speaks about the Nathan Dam proposal at TSBE’s May Enterprise Evening in Chinchilla.
FULL STEAM AHEAD: Sunwater's John Kelly speaks about the Nathan Dam proposal at TSBE’s May Enterprise Evening in Chinchilla. Matthew Newton

Proposed dam to get federal minister’s tick

SUNWATER is hoping to have its amended Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the ambitious Nathan Dam project ticked off by the Federal Environment Minister at the end of the year.

The proposed dam on the Dawson River would supply water to townships and industry in the Western Downs.

The state-owned water infrastructure provider submitted additional information to the office of the Coordinator General in April and hoped to receive comments by the end of this month so that the EIS could be be finalised, Sunwater's John Kelly told Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise's May Enterprise Evening.

The EIS for the Nathan Dam was originally published in 2012 but Sunwater was required to provide additional information after the submissions process raised additional issues.

Mr Kelly said the Nathan Dam was first proposed in 1922.

"It gained quite a bit of momentum in the 90s due to increasing water demands in the region and drought," he said.

"The purpose of the dam is to supply water to irrigated crops and other developments. At the time the proposal was approved by the Minister for Environment and Heritage but there was an application for a review of that decision and that was upheld by the Federal Court.

"SUDAW were the proponents for the construction of the dam at the time. They were required to do some further assessments which they elected to not do and hence the momentum stopped.

"In 2006 the Central Queensland Water Supply Strategy was released and that identified the dam as a possibility for providing for future water supplies in the area."

The dam would cover about 13,000 hectares and have a spillway sitting 80m above the riverbed level.

Sunwater's Woleebee Creek pipeline, which currently supplies treated CSG water to the Glebe Weir, could be reversed and used as part of the dam's pipeline infrastructure to supply water to Western Downs townships like Chinchilla, Warra and Dalby.

Speaking to Mr Kelly during a Q&A session after his presentation, Western Downs Regional Councillor Ray Brown said $2 billion in federal funding for water infrastructure projects was up for grabs, so long as the funding was matched at a State level.

"For the Western Downs, it would give six towns town water supply reliability for the next 50-100," he said. "It also supplies six existing power stations without any issues. We know the water will be too expensive for agriculture, but for the lifeblood of industry in our region, coal washing facilities and particularly feedlots, this has got huge potential ahead of us.

"Will you help promote John, through your CEO to the State Government to make a commitment to a project like this?"

Mr Kelly agreed wholeheartedly: "As an engineeer I'd love to build a dam and that's the one I've got my eye on," he said.

"I'm a small fish in a big pond but I'm more than happy to do all I can to make it a reality... hand on heart I will do my best."