At least NSW gives a dam about Queensland
QUEENSLAND towns at risk of running out of water within in months will be future-proofed by NSW taxpayers through a mega dam funded with the Morrison Government.
Under a plan that will be bitter sweet for communities in Stanthorpe and Warwick, the NSW and Commonwealth governments will rescue border towns by announcing a new multimillion-dollar, 100,000 megalitre dam on the Mole River at Tenterfield, south of Stanthorpe.
There are options to expand it up to 300,000 megalitres.
However, the Palaszczuk Government's go-slow on building dams in Queensland, means the Morrison Government's could ask Queensland to fund 30 per cent of the cost of building Mole River Dam.
The long-touted dam in NSW will help communities and irrigators in that state plus enable water to be piped into the Granite Belt to ensure it no longer runs dry. Communities and irrigators will have to pay for the water but it offers them a lifeline and certainty.
When built it will also help Queensland's horticulturalists, who have ripped out trees this year because of sustained drought. But the NSW dam will not be built in time to save Queensland communities from running out of water in a matter of months.
Without substantial rain, Stanthorpe is projected to run out of water in December/January and Warwick by December next year.
It is expected the NSW-Commonwealth announcement will be made by next week. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has previously said that while water was a state responsibility, the Federal Government "would never stand idly by and see communities run out of water".
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last month said her Government would pay for the ongoing cost of carting water for residents until the end of next year, at a cost of about $800,000 a month.
She pledged Stanthorpe would have a secure drinking water supply until 2021.
But it comes as Queensland faces pressure to tick off on environmental approvals for the $84 million, 12,000 megalitre Emu Swamp Dam, which would help Granite Belt communities, including Stanthorpe.
The Morrison Government is coughing up $47 million for Emu Swamp, growers in the area are forking out about $24 million and the Palaszczuk Government is putting in the rest of just under $20 million.
The Courier-Mail understands the project is ready to go and would have bulldozers on site once the State Government approved the dam.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Drought Minister David Littleproud, in Queensland and NSW last week visiting drought-affected communities, urged Ms Palaszczuk to approve Emu Swamp.
"It has never ever been the responsibility of Federal Government since federation to build a dam but we put $3.2 billion on the table for people to come and get it,'' Mr Littleproud told Sky News.
"We've got a dam about to start in my own electorate in Stanthorpe at Emu Swamp. We're going to start digging a hole, but the Federal Government is not allowed to lift a shovel in this country unless the state government allows them because they own the resource."
Mr Frydenberg said the Palaszczuk Government had to "get on with the job of providing these approvals".
"We want to partner with you. We're prepared to fund these new water infrastructure projects. We backed the communities. But please get on with the approvals and stop dragging your feet."
A spokeswoman for State Development Minister Cameron Dick said yesterday that at the request of proponents, the Coordinator-General approved an extension for an environmental impact statement (EIS) on April 2, with the new lapse date for the EIS April next year.