Broken River, at the site of the proposed Urannah Dam wall.
Broken River, at the site of the proposed Urannah Dam wall.

Have your say on $673m Urannah Dam project

DRAFT orders linked to the Urannah Dam project have been released and are open for Central Queensland communities to have their say from Monday.

However environmental conservation groups are still calling for the proposed water scheme to be scrapped.

The State Government's co-ordinator-general has prepared draft terms of reference for an environmental-impact statement for the project, which sets out what project proponent Bowen River Utilities must address when preparing the EIS.

From tomorrow, community members can comment on whether the draft TOR is adequate or not. Comments close at 5pm on January 29 next year.

In November last year, the Federal Government signed off on a $10 million election commitment through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund to make Urannah Dam shovel ready.

A 2004 aerial photo of Broken River west of /Proserpine, the proposed site for the Urannah Dam.
A 2004 aerial photo of Broken River west of /Proserpine, the proposed site for the Urannah Dam.

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The proposed $673 million development would dam the Broken River in the upper Broken River Valley southeast of Collinsville with preconstruction work fast-tracked to 2022.

Bowen Collinsville Enterprise believes it has the potential to unlock water security for 15 active mining projects, 21 new projects and deliver $558 million in economic benefits.

Mackay Conservation Group co-ordinator Peter McCallum labelled the project as "increasingly controversial, with farmers, scientists and environmentalists raising serious concerns about the consequences of reducing the flow of water in Australia's second largest river basin".

"The Urannah Dam, west of Mackay, has been put forward at least 19 times since the early 1960s but has never been supported by a sound economic case," Mr McCallum said.

"This month, Mackay Conservation Group released a reassessment of the preliminary business case for the Urannah Dam, which shows that the dam will generate as little as 26 cents for every dollar it costs."

Mr McCallum said environmentalists Terri and Robert Irwin have called to have the project scrapped because it would "destroy" the habitat of Irwin's Turtle.

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

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Southport woman Fay Calvert in an open letter to Bowen River Utilities managing direction John Cotter as well as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon and Minister for Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water Glenn Butcher, questioned why a dam was being built to support coal mining.

Ms Calvert said in the 21st century the focus should be on renewable energy.

"We are at the point where the scientists know we are headed for climate warming of 1.5 (degrees celcius)," she said.

"They also know, if we don't put world wide practices into place now, it will rise even higher.

"So here we are suggesting we build a dam, to support coal mines, in a recognised important wetland.

"I would have thought we would be finding ways to grow food and fibre without having to keep taking more and more water from its natural habitat.

"I also thought we would be looking for renewable energy sources that would have less warming affects than coal on our state, our country and the planet as a whole."

To read and comment on the draft terms of reference for an environment impact statement visit here.