SDRC slots $741k for dam study

TWO councils, $2 million spent on investigations and 22 years later and we still do not know if the Emu Swamp Dam project will go ahead or not.

During a confidential session in last week's Southern Downs Regional Council meeting the councillors approved to spend $741,574 to have consulting company SKM to manage the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement of the dam project.

Southern Downs Regional Council director of engineering services Peter See said the concept had originally been dealt with by the Stanthorpe Shire Council and taken over by the Southern Downs Regional Council after amalgamation five years ago.

Emu Swamp was not the only site considered for the dam, but Mr See said it was determined to provide the best outcome for the community.

The dam, estimated to cost $80 million, would be about 20km downstream of Stanthorpe, near Fletcher Rd, along the Severn River.

Mr See said it would stand 6-8m high and have the capability of being used for both urban water supply and irrigation.

"The Environmental Impact Statement was to determine the effect on the flora and fauna in the area should the dam be built," he said.

"From the information provided in the impact statement council was asked to consider alternative options; however, it was decided that the Emu Swamp Dam should proceed.

"This means further information in the form of a Supplementary Impact Statement will need to be provided."

Mr See said after the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement had been prepared it would be presented to the State Co-ordinator General in October this year.

"This will give the state and federal governments the information they need to approve the dam."

Part of this study is an economic analysis, which Mr See said would cover a range of areas.

"It will look at the cost of construction, running the dam, maintenance, and cost of the irrigation component and then we will have to find the money," he said.

"The council is looking for state and federal funding."

The two main issues that could stop the dam going ahead are a rare breed of turtle and bottle brush reported to be located near the dam site.

"These two things come under federal legislation and will need to be approved by the Federal Government," Mr See said.

Mr See said he had not been given a timeline for the next step of the process, but said if it was not approved, the Southern Downs Regional Council would need to consider other options for a dam to service Stanthorpe.

"If there is no dam there is the potential that Stanthorpe will run out of water," Mr See said.

"There is only small storage at Storm King Dam and it is vulnerable."

In preparation of the dam's being approved the Southern Downs Regional Council, also during a confidential session last week, voted to negotiate the purchase of a property that would be affected by the construction of Emu Swamp Dam.

Mr See said the land would be inundated or affected by the buffer zone that would be required to surround Emu Swamp Dam.

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