A western Queensland Mayor says she is open to the idea of exploring small-scale irrigation projects in the Channel Country.

The State Government wants to remove Wild Rivers declarations for western Queensland rivers and replace them with a new management framework.

Barcoo Mayor Julie Groves is a member of the Western Rivers Advisory Panel, which is advising the Government on a new way to manage the rivers.

She says extensive consultation in the shire last year found that residents did want the chance to investigate small-scale irrigation possibilities, and new technology would help.

"It was just another opportunity that people were looking at," she said.

"People were just looking to the future and not closing off all prospects.

"It will be something our council need to consider but at the present time under our community plan that expresses the current views of the people of the Barcoo Shire.

"I just think it is really important that for the future of our whole region, that we are open to those differing opportunities that technology might bring.

"At no time, no time ever, have I called for or would I like to see large-scale irrigation anywhere in the western rivers catchment."

Damage concern

A local landholders' group says it is worried about the potential for irrigation to damage the iconic rivers in the region.

Bob Morrish from the Cooper Creek Protection Group says a recent meeting at Windorah rejected the idea and people are even concerned that small-scale projects could escalate down the track.

"A number of speakers addressed that question and said they didn't trust that either, because small-scale irrigation has a terrible tendency to grow into large-scale," he said.

"One landholder who has had family experience close to Cubbie Station down Dirranbandi way - he expressed the view that Cubbie began as a small-scale project growing a bit of stock feed and look where it's grown now.

"The outback Channel Country rivers are iconic rivers and among the last in the world that are free-flowing and not really tampered with by large-scale commercial projects that use a lot of water.

"The meeting at Windorah absolutely denied the idea that irrigation would bring economic improvement to this country."

The Government says the door is not open to large-scale irrigation in the Channel Country.

Queensland Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps says they have asked the advisory panel to be open to the possibility of small-scale irrigation but the Government can control the volume of water it makes available through other legislation.

"So when we say small-scale irrigation, we are not saying that the door is open to escalation of irrigation activity in the future or large-scale," he said.

"I think it is unfortunate that some people are trying to scare certain stakeholders in the community by saying that that is a possible outcome."

 

Advertisement