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Burnett Catchment Forum to discuss water security

Paradise Dam
With water being released from Paradise Dam for safety reasons, the State Government has established a forum for Bundaberg Region farmers to have their say on water security.

The State Government has established a Burnett Catchment Industry Forum for Bundaberg Region farmers to discuss water security.

The group has been formed in the wake of Paradise Dam having its capacity reduced for safety reasons.

It comes as Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers (BFVG) have established a Save Paradise Facebook page to fight for reinstatement.

And the Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry will hold public hearings in Bundaberg next week.

The Burnett Catchment Industry Forum is made up of representatives from four of the region’s irrigation and agricultural groups: BFVG, Canegrowers Isis, Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group and Australian Macadamia Society.

Burnett Catchment Forum members:

  • Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers: Bree Grima, Joe Lyons, Tom Redfern, Tina McPherson, Michael McMahon;
  • Isis Canegrowers: Mark Mammino, Angela Williams, Peter McLennan, Don Halpin, Simon Ricciardi;
  • Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group: Annie Attard, Simon Doyle, Mark Pressler, Kelvin Griffin, Dale Holliss;
  • Australian Macadamia Society: Kevin Steinhardt, Michael Russo, Geoff Chivers, Jolyon Burnett.

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham said the new forum’s task was to contribute and discuss ideas to maintain water security until long-term improvements to Paradise Dam are completed.

“We understand how important water security is to farmers and industry in this extremely productive region,” Dr Lynham said.

“Essential works will start in April to ensure the community’s safety ahead of the next wet season, and Building Queensland is about to provide advice about long-term improvement options.

“The forum, under its chair, former Queensland Farmers Federation president Stuart Armitage, is focused on ensuring industry is part of developing water security solutions in the Burnett catchment.

“I appreciate the efforts of local irrigation and agricultural groups, who were pivotal in getting this forum off the ground.”

The Burnett Catchment Forum met for the first time last week, finalising their terms of reference, which are now available.

The role of the Burnett Catchment Forum:

  • Assist Sunwater to identify opportunities to improve water security in the Burnett Catchment;
  • Make recommendations to Sunwater, for possible presentation to Government, regarding reliability, storage, distribution, infrastructure, sharing and allocation of water in the Burnett Catchment;
  • Establish an effective and efficient communication process between Sunwater and industry stakeholders;
  • Develop and strengthen long term relationships between stakeholders;
  • Ensure that industry stakeholders are accurately informed about the Burnett Catchment, and associated safety and water security matters;
  • Provide a process for stakeholders to raise concerns and provide an opportunity for Sunwater to demonstrate how those concerns have been taken into consideration.

The next Burnett Catchment Forum will discuss the Building Queensland Options Report for Paradise Dam.

Separately, the Paradise Dam Community Reference Group continues to meet monthly to discuss the essential works about to start at the dam.

Save Paradise Dam

The Save Paradise Facebook page urges all interested parties to attend the Commission of Inquiry hearings and keep up to date with the information being gathered.

The economic report compiled by stakeholders estimates a $2.4 billion blow to the regional economy if water isn't reinstated.

A survey found that 76 per cent of non-irrigated businesses believe Paradise Dam is extremely important to their business.