Proposed pipeline could 'unlock' the Whitsundays' potential
A proposed 100km pipeline from Home Hill to Bowen could be the key to unlocking the potential of the northern Whitsunday region, as well as providing greater water security.
If successful, the pipeline would potentially provide a reliable water supply for existing and expanding horticulture and aquaculture projects.
The pipeline would run underground along the state-owned, council managed Bruce Highway corridor from the Burdekin River in Ayr, through to Gumlu, Guthalungra and finish in Bowen.
Bowen Pipeline Company's director Sean Brown said the project had been in the planning stages since 2016, and in that time has gained a 'high level of support.'
"The pipeline would be laid on the inland side of the Bruce Highway," Mr Brown said.
"This means that there would be little impact and disruption to the community during construction."
"We have lodged a few draft applications with the co-ordinator general as well as the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy, who have said we are good to move on to the next steps."
The project is slated to cost about $150m, which Mr Brown said is 'kept low' through a mix of technology and using a low-pressure system.
If successful, users of the pipeline would purchase their water directly from the company.
Mr Brown said a similar project had been proposed by Sunwater over 10 years ago, however, prohibitively high costs had quashed it.
"We're using pipes that will reduce welding by 90 per cent, helping keep costs low," he said.
"It will also be low pressure, which means that we can keep those costs down, and it can then be pressurised by the user."
Bowen Gumlu Growers Association President Carl Walker said he welcomed any project that brought potential water security to the Bowen region.
"We're pretty blessed that our water supplies are looking good at the moment, but we all know that the change to drought conditions can quickly happen," Mr Walker said.
"Having water security in the northern area of the region will help underpin those businesses who would no longer have to worry about whether they have enough water to sustain themselves."
"It also means that potential opportunities into more water-dependent crops can be explored.
"It has the ability to unlock the ultimate potential of that development corridor."
Bowen Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bruce Hedditch said he thought the project was 'a brilliant idea.'
"It's exciting not only from an agricultural perspective but the growing industry of aquaculture too," Mr Hedditch said.
"I'm very supportive of the idea and anything that can help the region and bring more people in."
Whitsunday Regional Council chief executive officer Kenn Donohoe said the council has met with the Bowen Pipeline Company in the past 12 months and will continue to support and advocate for the project within its powers.
"Council is keen to work with the proponent, the Burdekin council and the officer of the co-ordinator general, who are the appropriate authority to assist with the request for use of road reserves and have requested collective meetings with all parties to help progress the proposal," Mr Donohoe said.