Water in pipeline for FNQ growers

North Johnston River diversion plan gains traction

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Kennedy MP Bob Katter and Hill MP Shane Knuth have been advocating for the North Johnstone Transfer to provide greater water security on the Tablelands.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter and Hill MP Shane Knuth have been advocating for the North Johnstone Transfer to provide greater water security on the Tablelands.

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Water from the North Johnstone River may be diverted to provide a more reliable supply for farmers in Far North Queensland.

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WATER from the North Johnstone River may be diverted to provide a more reliable supply for farmers in Far North Queensland.

The project would transfer water via a pipeline from the upper North Johnstone River, into the Barron River and then the Tinaroo Dam, bolstering dam levels.

Transfer was first mentioned when the Tinaroo Dam was constructed in the 1950s as part of the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation scheme.

Hill MP Shane Knuth said after years of lobbying for the North Johnstone Transfer project to go ahead, the response from government was encouraging.

"Over the years, there has been massive horticulture expansions on the Tablelands and when Tinaroo Dam was first constructed plans were put in place for the North Johnstone Transfer to give the region another water source once it had out grown the dams capacity," Mr Knuth said.

"That time is now. Farmers are screaming for more water.

"The North Johnstone Transfer will provide a much quicker and faster approach to water security at an affordable cost of construction.

"Water would be harvested only during flooding and provide a much-needed boost to farmers."

Mr Knuth said having an extra water source, other than Tinaroo Dam, would also benefit recreational users.

"We have seen in the past when the dam gets down to 30 per cent that recreational users, farmers and the community are all affected," he said.

Natural Resources Anthony Lynham in parliament this week agreed there was a demand for more water in the region and Sunwater was considering the viability of the project.

"Like with any water in this state, the water from the North Johnstone diversion must be provided at the right price for farmers," Dr Lynham said.

"Farmers have to have the right price to be able to afford to convert this water to economic production.

"The department... and Sunwater are rightfully considering the potential viability of the North Johnstone diversion.

"The North Johnstone diversion is under investigation now by the department to make sure that it does stack up.

"Robust assessments have to be undertaken based on cost and the amount of water and with the North Johnstone diversion in particular, that is where preliminary investigations have to be done on hydrology to make sure there is enough water to go across into the Tablelands."

FNQ Growers president Joe Moro said securing more water was vital for the horticultural industry to reach its potential in the region.

"The transfer is a great idea," Mr Moro said.

"We need something to be done because it is really the only viable option we have for horticulture needs."

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