AFTER a two-year process of rigorous scientific assessment and consultation, the updated Barron Water Plan has now been finalised, ensuring an additional 20,550 megalitres to meet new and emerging demands for water and support regional development.
The new plan replaces the Barron Water Plan 2002 and is underpinned by 20 years of scientific data and is the product of more than 30 consultative meetings with water users and stakeholders, including local government, First Nations Peoples, irrigators, environment and catchment care groups, tourism operators and industry experts.
Water in the Barron catchment is crucial for urban supply, agriculture, fishing, tourism, cultural values and hydro-electric power generation.
The catchment holds significant environmental importance as it flows to the Great Barrier Reef, as such, the new Barron Water Plan maintains environmental protections and considers the best available science, including the effects of climate change on future water availability.
“Water plans make sure we strike the right balance between water for the environment and water for consumptive use,” Minister for Water Glenn Butcher said.
“When it comes to water management, I will always be informed by the science and will always listen to experts.”
An additional 20,550 megalitres of unallocated water from the catchment will meet new and emerging demands for water and support regional development.
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the new water plan also ensures that First Nations Peoples have continued access to water for cultural, social and economic purposes.
Barron River MP Craig Crawford said the additional 20,550 megalitres of water identified in the new plan will greatly benefit the far northern community.
“We have rapid population growth in Cairns and guaranteed water supply is the lifeblood to a sustainable future,” he said.
The Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water will engage with stakeholders in the coming months on the next steps for unlocking this reserve.