(Cairns... Far North Queensland)
QUEENSLAND WATER GRID
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WATER - AUSTRALIA'S FUTURE
The state government will look at building a $7.5 billion water pipeline from North Queensland to Brisbane in the next 50 to 100 years to cope with the future effects of climate change.
Emerging from a Cabinet meeting, Premier Peter Beattie said the government would conduct a feasibility study into building a 1,200 km pipeline from the Burdekin in the north to the state's water deprived south-east, incorporating existing regional pipelines and easements.
If the project gets the thumbs up, construction is expected to cost more than $7.5 billion and the running costs are likely to be more than $250 million a year.
Mr Beattie said the pipeline was part of an overview of the state's water requirements over the next century and would essentially create a Queensland Water Grid, allowing water to be piped from excess dams into water-deprived areas.
"While it is economically unfeasible to pipe water from the state's north to the south-east in 2006, population growth and climate change may make such a pipeline not just cost effective but essential in another 50 to 100 years' time," said Mr Beattie.
As part of the study, the Queensland Coordinator General will investigate whether easements for gas pipelines, power transmission lines and road and rail corridors could be used for the two-way pipeline.
"It may well be the case that our grandchildren will be provided with water security in the later part of this century because we have taken the step of protecting easements for a future pipeline now," Mr Beattie said.
He said the pipeline would take advantage of climate change influences, such as the excess of water in the Top End.
However, Mr Beattie rejected any suggestion the announcement was an indication his government was panicking about water.
"Cynics will say that," he said.
"But the truth is we have to look to the future."The study will cost between $2 and $3 million and take at least a year to complete.
Sunday 23 July 2006 - 21:05 AEST
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Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870 Australia