Bringing a secure and sustainable new water supply to the Lockyer Valley will not only ensure its long-term future in an increasingly variable and unreliable climate but allow for it’s productive capacity to increase to meet the demands of growing domestic and overseas markets for clean, green and reliable supplies of fruit and vegetables.
It has been estimated that there is approximately 15,000 hectares of additional good quality agricultural land that could be brought into production if more water was available in the Lockyer Valley representing an increase of up to 35% in the land available for cultivation.
The socio-economic analysis undertaken by WSP in 2017 identified the economic benefits of the proposed infrastructure delivering an additional 100,000 ML/annum of water as:
Substantial socio-economic benefits of the project include:
In addition to the direct economic benefits described above it is anticipated there would also be substantial multiplier effects at play in the local economy in terms of jobs growth and GRP. The horticultural supply chain is extensive and complex, and effects of the project benefits would permeate throughout the entire supply chain for the benefit of the whole community. The total direct and indirect economic benefit has been estimated as:
Access to employment is a major contributor to the liveability of a region, and assists in attracting people to live in the region and creating regional communities.
Additional jobs in the region will assist in employment opportunities for local residents. The Lockyer Valley currently has an unemployment rate of 6.9% and Somerset 8.9% which are both higher than Queensland, currently 6.0%. (QSGO Regional Profile June 2018 Quarter Unemployment)
The project’s economic outcomes for the regions will lead to increased demand for and investment in improved service opportunities for the broader community in areas such as education, health, retail and support services.
The infrastructure also has the ability to create further opportunities for recreation and tourism via year round use of existing water ways.
Currently Atkinsons Dam, Lake Dyer/Bill Gunn Dam and Lake Clarendon are not able to be used for recreation due to very low water levels. Maintaining recreational use will lead to increased tourism visitation. Recently events and activities (Powerfest, Dragon boat racing, camping, canoeing and fishing) that are dependent on this resource have ceased to operate in the Lockyer Valley.
Environmental benefits will increase the natural amenity of the regions and South East Queensland. Directing an new source of water including recycled water to agricultural use will reduce the nutrient load in the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay. There will also likely be reductions in groundwater extraction placing less stress on aquifers.
Improving water availability and reliability to the region has the potential to attract further investment to the region as well as stop lost current and future opportunities.
The proposed infrastructure will bring and additional 22,500 Ha to the regions usable irrigated land supply. Direct private capital investment to activate these additional hectares is estimated to be $67.5 million.
There are also identified opportunities for investment from other further stage processing providing additional jobs in food manufacturing.
Creation of an additional 1400 jobs in the region and the added GDP and additional $73 million in wages will create opportunities for further investment in service industries for retail and community support services.
Additional private investment for export production is also likely. Water availability dictates the level of production that can be achieved. Capacity exists within the region to make the most of export opportunities for clean green fruit and vegetables; however at the moment the ability to do so is limited by water availability.
A number of relevant research reports, prepared by expert consultants are available to download for those are interested in further reading about the detailed numbers, statistics and feasibility of the project
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