The availability of water is critical to the growth of key northern industries like agriculture, aquaculture, mining, energy and tourism.
Rainfall in the north is highly seasonal and capturing and using the water is challenging.
The government has invested $25.5 million in 15 water infrastructure feasibility studies in the north through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. The fund will ensure scientific and technical research is available to help develop sustainable northern water infrastructure. The studies include:
- three in Western Australia
- one in the Northern Territory
- one across the Northern Territory and Western Australian borders
- ten in Queensland
As part of these investments in water studies and development, a total of $176.1 million will fund the construction of the Rookwood Weir on the Fitzroy River, west of Rockhampton. This has the potential to kick-start an agricultural boom in central Queensland.
Water Resource Assessments
The government is also investing $15 million for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to conduct northern water resource assessments. These assessments involve northern jurisdictions, research partners and communities and are on track for completion in June 2018. The locations are:
- Fitzroy River Basin in Western Australia
- Mitchell River Basin in Queensland
- Darwin region (Adelaide, Mary, Wildman and Finniss catchments) in the Northern Territory
Governments in northern Australia can also partner with the Australian Government through the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility. The facility is providing a further $2 billion in concessional loans to develop water infrastructure.