Construction fences at the iconic peak of the Great Barrier Reef have been erected by Queensland authorities to keep the state’s second largest dam from going into shutdown.
Key points:The Great Barrier is in its fourth year of operation and was first built in 1997, but has been repeatedly breached by storms and sea level riseThe fences are being erected in a bid to keep it in operation in the event of a spillA joint project between the Australian Government and the Queensland Department of Infrastructure and Transport will be the main conduit for the water flowing through the dams, which provide about half of the state with electricity and supply about 80 per cent of Queensland’s power.
The Great River flows through the mouth of the Barrier Reef, which is one of the world’s largest marine ecosystems, and feeds into the Great River at the mouth, and then into the sea, with the Great Sea becoming the main body of water for the state.
The dams are also vital to the Great Australian Barrier Reef.
The State Government says the dams will provide for about $1 billion in annual benefits, and the project will cost more than $1bn, with a further $1.5bn to come from Queensland Hydro and Queensland Power Networks.
The Queensland Government said the Great Wall of the Reef has already received about $2.8bn from state governments and the Commonwealth, but the cost of building the dams has been an issue.
“This project will deliver the greatest benefit to the state of Queensland, and our focus is on the most sustainable way of meeting the future demands of the region, the Great Western Barrier Reef,” said Environment Minister Steven Miles.
“The Great Wall project is one that has the potential to make a significant contribution to the Reef’s future, and we want to ensure that we are fully committed to ensuring that the future Great Barrier will thrive.”
In its submission to the Queensland Government, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said the dam project could generate up to $500 million in economic activity for Queensland, $2 billion in economic growth for the entire state and $3 billion in tourism revenue.
The ABS said the total annual economic benefits could be as high as $3.4 billion, with $2 million for tourism, $1 million for economic growth, $500,000 for the Great British Barrier Reef and $400,000 to the Commonwealth.
Mr Miles said the dams were “an essential part of Queenslanders wellbeing”, and that they were a “key element in providing a stable and resilient environment for the people and wildlife of Queensland”.
“The dam is the single biggest element in ensuring the reef stays safe and sustainable,” he said.
“It is vital to keeping the Great Barriers reef safe and stable and provides the greatest possible value for Queensland taxpayers.”
Mr Miles also highlighted the importance of maintaining a safe water environment, noting that it was the “only place on earth where the Great Southern Reef is able to maintain its level”.
The Queensland Department for Environment and Heritage said the project would allow for a “very stable and sustainable environment for millions of people”.
“It’s a really good investment, it’s an important project for Queensland and we’re looking forward to working with the Government to make it a success,” said Chief Executive Steve Williams.
The Department for the Environment and Energy said the $1b in economic benefits from the dam would be reinvested in Queensland’s infrastructure, including the Queensland Power Network and the Northern Powerhouse.
“We’ve worked hard to secure this project, and it’s a great achievement for Queensland,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt said.