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Department of Energy and Water Supply

Local management arrangements for SunWater irrigation channels


Following the irrigation price path announced in 2012, irrigators raised concerns about the long term sustainability of the existing SunWater irrigation channels.  In response to these concerns the Government committed to investigate the possibility of SunWater's eight channel irrigation schemes transitioning to local management arrangements (LMA).  Local management would place the channel irrigation schemes under the ownership and operation of local irrigators who benefited from the schemes.

Stage 1

A working group, including representatives from SunWater, irrigation peak bodies and local representatives was established to determine the interest in LMA.

Stage 2

A detailed assessment was made of the benefits and support of a move to a LMA. The governance arrangements included establishing:

  • an independent project team, hosted by the department, to manage the process
  • interim boards, for each scheme which put forward business proposals.

The independent Chair of the stage 2 project released a public summary report (PDF) which outlines the findings and recommendations.

Stage 3

We have considered the business proposals from the interim boards, and the Chair's findings and recommendations from stage 2, and decided to proceed to the next stage of the project.

LMA Stage 3 consists of:

  • Transition: Theodore, St George, Emerald and Eton will commence the transition to local management, subject to the irrigators and the Government agreeing the final terms of the transfer, and there being sufficient support from scheme customers.
  • Investigation: in Bundaberg, Burdekin-Haughton, Lower Mary and Mareeba–Dimbulah, irrigators are undertaking additional work to prepare revised business proposals. This will inform the Government's future decision on whether those schemes are suitable to transition to local management arrangements.

The board for each of the schemes are as follows:

Transition schemes

Emerald: Anne Marie O’Callaghan (Acting Chair), David McDougall, Peter Galea, Ross Burnett, Hamish Millar, Emma McCullagh

Eton: Lee Blackburn (Chair), John Muscat, John Palmer, Josephine Prior, Tom Wallwork

St George: Luke Stower (Chair), David Moon, Glen Price, Ross Landsberg, Scott Armstrong

Theodore: Malcom Finlayson (Chair), Ed Donohue, Greg Austin, Kirk Anderson, Peter French, Sarah Cox

Investigation schemes

Bundaberg: Maurice Maughan (Chair), Dale Holliss, Lynn Smart, Mark Mammino, Peter Burrows, Phillip Miller

Burdekin–Haughton: Mario Barbagallo (Chair), Dan Coutts, Evan Shannon, Ian Davies, Mauro Garbuio, Peter Gilbey, Peter Hall

Lower Mary: Geoffrey Wormwell (Chair), Allen Birt, Bernie Wilson, Stewart Norton, Trevor Dean, Warwick Yates

Mareeba-Dimbulah: Joe Moro (Chair), Brett Stevenson, Graham Kirkwood, Maryann Salvetti, Murray Smith

The Water (Local Management Arrangements) Act 2017 to facilitate the transition commenced on 1 July 2017.

Find out more

Last updated:
13 December 2017
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