RAPAD Strategy for Central West jobs, population, economic growth – just add water

Central Western Queensland local councils through a new Regional Water Strategy have proposed to the State Government review of unallocated water across the region to improve drought resilience for the region’s farms and supply new industries, including resources and green hydrogen.

Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) Chair and Longreach Regional Council Mayor, Tony Rayner, said the Queensland Government’s recent decision to protect the Lake Eyre Basin’s rivers and floodplains should provide impetus to review the unallocated water supplies across the Basin.

Speaking from the RAPAD Board meeting in Barcaldine, Mayor Rayner said the representatives from the seven councils – Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo, Boulia, Diamantina, Longreach and Winton – resolved to work with the Queensland Government’s Environment and Water Ministers on the Strategy.

“Water is a critical resource for RAPAD region towns, farms, industry and future economic development,” Mayor Rayner said.

The Strategy has three objectives:

  • Ensure current water resources are utilised to their maximum potential
  • Secure additional water to support new opportunities
  • Lock in funding for water infrastructure

“Compared to other regions, we have very high levels of unallocated water. In the Georgina, Diamantina and Cooper Water Plans, the allocation of water is 0.3% compared to 20% in other developed catchments,” Mayor Rayner said.

“We have identified opportunities for irrigated agriculture like hay production, green hydrogen production and critical minerals development, as well as develops in centres across the region, that would require up 270,000 megalitres.”

“If that water demand can be met by releasing ‘unallocated’ water and beneficial re-use of water, we can support developments that will boost jobs, population and economic growth.”

The analysis projected the benefits would include:

  • 2,527 additional full-time equivalent jobs in the region (a 45% increase)
  • 37% increase in the region’s population from 10,721 to 18,897
  • $91 million in additional annual tax revenue generated
  • $368 million potential growth in regional economy (a 36% increase)

Analysis prepared for RAPAD estimates 1,237,324 megalitres of under-allocated water in these basins; that’s more than the Wivenhoe Dam (1,165,000ML) and almost as much as Queensland’s second largest dam– the Fairbairn Dam (1,300,100ML) near Emerald.

“RAPAD respects First Nations communities have a very strong cultural connection to water and conservation values, through both water quality and quantity. The Strategy aims to maximise the cultural and economic opportunities for Indigenous communities.”

Mayor Rayner said securing more unallocated water and implementing beneficial re-use of wastewater and water from resource developments can improve drought resistance, support green hydrogen production and critical minerals development.

Download the RAPAD Water for Economic Development – Regional Water Strategy.



Tony Rayner, Chair RAPAD, 0418 961 372

Morgan Gronold, A/CEO, RAPAD 0448 739 759