Article – CSIRO report confirms land and water potential in Queensland

7 February 2014
Craig Zonca & Charlie McKillop
ABC Rural

Scientists have confirmed another 10,000 to 20,000 megalitres could be drawn from the Flinders River catchment.

A CSIRO study looking into the suitability of northern Queensland for agriculture has found crops could be grown on irrigated land on a scale three times the size of the Ord River system in Western Australia.
CSIRO lead researcher Dr Peter Stone says a comprehensive assessment of climate, soil and water has confirmed that a total of up to 50,000 hectares could be developed in the Flinders and Gilbert River catchments.
The highly anticipated report was commissioned to determine whether more water could be released from these river systems after the Queensland Government ended a 12-year moratorium on new allocations in 2012.
“There wasn’t detailed knowledge of how the river systems actually work” says Dr Stone.
“And if you don’t know how the river systems work, you don’t know how much water you can take from them or store or what the impacts of that would be.
“So, what reports like this do is provide governments, potential industry and the community with the information they need to go in with their eyes open about development.”
In the Gilbert River catchment, the report concludes a potential for an additional 20,000 to 30,000 hectares to be developed with irrigation water drawn and held in two in-stream dams with a capacity of 700 gigalitres.
It recommends another 10,000 to 20,000 hectares could be irrigated in the Flinders catchment from on-farm dams, holding 350gL with about 70 to 80 per cent reliability.
The Flinders and Gilbert Agricultural Resource Assessment report is available here.
Courtesy of ABC Rural