Now, there have been renewed calls for construction of Hells Gates Dam, and post-COVID-19, this could well be included as a new "nation building project". As such, NQCC has conducted a review to examine its feasibility as well as environmental impact and presented this to MP for Herbert, Phillip Thompson. The review examined documents that represent three perspectives: proponents of the dam, water-security interests and environmental impact.
In terms of feasibility, the review found that the Burdekin Falls dam (with the improved Haughton pipeline) will be adequate for Townsville's projected water needs for the next 60 years. Additionally, economic returns are based on optimal crop production, yet still appear to be limited with low internal rates of return. As such, the dam cannot be justified on water security grounds, and with great difficulty in terms of economic returns.
Most importantly, the environmental impacts will be profound. As well as loss of habitat due to land-clearing and inundation, the dam will result in the river flow below the dam to the present Burdekin Falls Dam, a length of 270km (52% of the length of the Burdekin) to become permanently turbid, and - along with the Burdekin Falls Dam - will remove >30% of the river flow. This has the potential to affect nutrient supply to the reef and cause erosion to the narrow spit of land that is Cape Bowling Green.
NQCC will continue to follow proposals for Hells Gates Dam construction and alert State and Federal parliaments of the potential environmental impacts and lack of economic feasibility. You can read our most recent updates on our blog.