More water means more jobs for the region: Saunders
INCREASED water storage will not just benefit the Fraser Coast's canegrowers - it will mean more jobs for the whole region.
That's what state member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders believes.
Mr Saunders spoke on the subject after MSF Sugar general manager Stewart Norton said greater water storage would protect irrigators from the droughts experiences by the region in 2014 and earlier this year.
With the barrage still overflowing last week after ex-tropical cyclone Debbie hit the region in March, Mr Norton said we needed to take advantage of big rain events and store the water so it would be there when the region really needed it.
Stored water was used during the drought, but when it ran out, as in 2014 and this year, Sunwater was forced to shut off the supply to irrigators, which has seriously impacted canegrowers' crops.
Mr Saunders said ti was imperative the government supported this goal and helped MSF Sugar reach its goal of increased water storage.
Currently there is some storage, but it is dependent upon consistent rainfall to be replenished.
Mr Stewart said the Lower Mary Irrigation Scheme had more allocation than storage in the scheme.
"There's quite a big difference," he said.
"We're relying on the scheme to be refilled two or three times a year through the river.
"Generally that's okay but in really dry years it runs out real quick and the growers can't irrigate.
"That's happened this year and it happened in 2014.
"So we've been looking at ways to increase storage in the region."
Mr Stewart said the other challenge the area was facing was that the scheme did not reach all the canegrowing areas and there were some significant areas it didn't get to, which needed to be addressed.
"We're not talking about damming the river or anything like that, we're talking about building storages around the place."
Mr Stewart said Mr Saunders had been offering assistance along with Sunwater in how to move the scheme forward.
He said not only would more storage benefit growers, it would also potentially benefit the whole region.
"Some water stored could be kept there for urban use as well.
"It could help the town water system as well."
Mr Saunders said the issue of water supply needed to be addressed so the region could move forward.
"If we harvest it we could use it for years to come, it would make this area go ahead," he said.
"Off-stream storage here means job and a lot of jobs."
Mr Saunders said one of his re-election commitments was to push to get water storage for the region to grow its agriculture sector.
"MSF Sugar has big plans for the area but they desperately need water to make sure they've got a sustainable industry here.
"Storing water is not a dirty word. Water security is crucial for this area.
"I'm working hard on it, doing everything I possibly can."