Nathan Dam approved by Federal Government

An artists impression of the proposed Nathan Dam.
An artists impression of the proposed Nathan Dam. Contributed

AN 888,312ML dam proposed on the Dawson River has been granted environmental approvals from the Federal Government.

The project was suspended eight years ago to investigate a critically endangered snail population, but "independent experts” have found the population to be significantly higher than first suggested, according to proponent SunWater.

The dam would supply water for industrial development in Central Queensland, and SunWater said the decision marked a significant milestone for the project's viability.

The agricultural industry will be unable to access water from the dam.

The Federal Government last week approved the environmental impact statement (EIS), subject to conditions, following the Coordinator-General's evaluation and consideration of environmental impact assessment requirements in May this year.

The proposed location for Nathan Dam is two kilometres upstream of Nathan Gorge on the Dawson River and would have a capacity of up to 888,312 megalitres to service future industrial and mining development in the Surat and southern Bowen basins.

SunWater Chief Executive Officer Ms Nicole Hollows said she was pleased with the outcome of the environmental impact statement process which had been suspended in 2009 to further investigate a critically endangered snail population.

"Investigations of the critically endangered Boggomoss Snail have been undertaken by independent experts and found the population to be significantly higher than originally suggested,” said Ms Hollows.

"If the project were to proceed, SunWater will take all the required steps to preserve long-term health, function and viability of the natural environment.

"SunWater is committed to undertaking rigorous, independent and transparent processes to ensure we have the required checks and balances to make considered and responsible decisions about future water infrastructure.”

Ms Hollows added while there will be no new allocation available for agriculture from the project, the dam will provide greater reliability of supply for downstream irrigators with existing allocations.

"Although a condition of the EIS approval is that no additional water is provided to agricultural users in the Dawson Valley Water Supply Scheme, the good news is a dam of this scale will provide reliability benefits for downstream irrigators,” she said.

"The next step in the process would be an independent Detailed Business Case to be undertaken by Building Queensland, but that will only progress when there is sufficient market demand to progress the project.

"Given the current downturn in mining it's unlikely there will be sufficient industry demand required to commence construction, however we are confident that demand will return and when it does we will be in a position to progress the opportunity.”

It is anticipated that construction of the Nathan Dam and associated pipelines would take nearly three years following finalisation of a Detailed Business Case.

SunWater is committed to providing information about the Nathan Dam and Pipelines Project via the information hotline 1800 158 651 and online at:

Topics:  chinchilla dawson river nathan dam nathan gorge taroom water western downs

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