An Independent Queensland Regional & Rural
(Cairns... Far North Queensland)
Assessment and Feasibility
As proposed by the
THE BRADFIELD STUDY
CONSORTIUM REPORT - 1984
This report was commissioned by the Premier's Department of the Queensland government, and undertaken by four of Australia's leading water engineering firms - Gutteridge Haskins & Davey, McIntyre & Associates, Munro & Johnson, and Cameron McNamara.
This report was never released, The Scheme proposed by the BSCR was allocated only a very limited percentage of the water resources of the area under study (e.g., the Tully and nearly half the Upper Burdekin were not permitted to be allocated to the scheme).
The study's terms of reference and resources were limited (e.g. the preferred scheme, Route 8 was not costed in the Report).
This study stated that 905,000 megalitres of water would be made available to Channels for delivering to the farm gate. This was sufficient to irrigate 150,000 ha.
The BSCR study included 0NLY the waters of the Upper Herbert and Upper Burdekin Rivers (i.e. not the Upper Tully or Upper Johnstone)
The study costed the Scheme at $1,950 million.
The study provided raw engineering figures of construction costs and water yield only. These of themselves did not recommend the Scheme. The study stated the annual operating costs at $430/ha compared unfavourably with $122/ha at Burdekin and similarly with capital cost per ha - $18,800, compared with $6,600 at Burdekin. The BSC report was prepared from engineering parameters only with restricted and narrow terms of reference.
Integral considerations of a non-engineering nature were not factored into the BSC report. The raw engineering figures needed to be inserted into an assessment model with a more adequate framework and terms of reference.
Cabinet consequently directed the Department of Northern Development to carry out a cost benefit assessment for consideration.
A Summary of Assessment and Feasibility (cost benefit analysis) was prepared by the Dept of Northern Development. It was completed just prior to the fall of the Government in 1989. So neither it nor the BSC Report was released. What follows is this Summary Report prepared by the office of Northern Development,
THE REVISED BRADFIELD SCHEME
This BSC Report was never released. Whilst it was of an exploratory nature, it was undertaken to provide some hard figures.
The Fraser Government had, prior to this, allocated $5 million for a full feasibility study; The Government fell before it was undertaken. The Queensland Government then allocated $0.5 million for an abbreviated study.
This study, it must be emphasized as stated above, Was never to be a comprehensive report. It did not even cost out its preferred route, Route 8. The money allocation was simply for an overview costing.
It must be emphasized that the Summary Assessment and Feasibility does not include five factors:
TOTAL VALUE of ANNUAL PRODUCTION
THE REVISED BRADFIELD SCHEME
As Per BSCR 1984
If the Upper Tully is included in the Scheme and a paper pulp mill converts wood chip to the value added product paper
This figure for Stage 3 of $2.05 billion is in line with California's agricultural production.
California's Central Valley produces around $12 billion of agricultural production from 2 million hectares of irrigated land.
The Revised Bradfield Scheme would irrigate around 0.3 million hectares and should yield $1.8 billion of agricultural produce.
VALUE OF COTTON PRODUCTION
(Residual stubble is edible for cattle fattening, see cattle production)
If water is allocated on the basis of volumetric allocation and not non-assured yield allocation then it is reasonable to assume that in one out of every three years, on average, double the "non assured yield" would be available (a fairly complex programme would have to be prepared to accurately quantify this figure).
FOREST TIMBER PAPER PULP (Fodder, Activated Carbon)
* 200,000 mgl is allocated for irrigation of eucalypt forest for woodchip.
* 5 mgl per hectare is required to produce 35t%ha/yr.
* Woodchip debarked green at port is worth $75/t (or $140/t
The area proposed for timber production is 40,000 ha of what is locally known as the "desert country", red massive soils of poor quality southwest of Pentland. Valuable returns can be achieved on this area in preference to using water on western downs for cotton since here it provides:
A significant extra as a source of product income is the by-products, particularly the production of activated carbon and other carbon products. These are too indefinite, however, to quantify.
Stations contingent to the irrigation channels can take 400 mgl each to permanently irrigate 40 ha of pasture for cattle fattening (or lamb weaning) or drought feeding of breeding stock during a prolonged dry. (Bullocks would be sent to agistment to feed lots during a prolonged dry).
Artesian bores can be closed off along irrigation routes, considerably contributing to the conservation of this still dwindling resource.
Pastoralists can secure their stock watering from Bradfield channels.
Mid west towns can secure vastly improved drinking water from Bradfield channels.
Both these measures will substantially reduce the pressure on the artesian aquifer. Some of this water conserved by these measures can be reallocated for similar cattle fattening and drought mitigation projects on stations off the Bradfield channels. Thus the average turn-off age of cattle - five years old - can be reduced to 2 years only and turn-off ratios would consequently increase from 1:7 to 1:3-I/2. The cattle population of the mid-west region and contingent areas is 1.4m per head.
Annual cattle turn-off will therefore increase from 200,000 to 400,000 per head @ value added (i.e. processed price) of $1,220 per head.
CATTLE DROUGHT LOSSES
Increased slaughtering of females during the drought years (i.e.1986 -1988) were 97,000 head. The 97,000 head @ 60% calving rates represents and annual production loss of 60,000 head @ $1,220 per head (processed cost).
SHEEP DROUGHT LOSSES
Sheep losses are far harder to quantify. Lambings are nearly 20%o lower than in the rest of the State, but income from sheep is far less than from cattle. Losses of 5% from annual woolclip of $60m would seem to be a not unreasonable figure .
Drought grants and subsidies saved cannot be quantified because there are a plethora of assistance. It is considered that a figure of $1 million would not be excessive -
Simultaneous flooding in the upper and lower Herbert River catchment area would place hundreds of lives in danger.
Of the five major Ingham floods this century, none have resulted from this simultaneous flooding of the upper and lower catchments.
Aboriginal legend in the Ingham area states "water from mountain to mountain". So whilst a simultaneous flood situation has not occurred in European Australian history, it has occurred in pre-European Australian history.
Kooragwyn Dam, the proposed Central Dam on the Herbert River, is sited on the upper Herbert River, just above where the river goes over the Herbert River Falls and tumbles down onto the coastal plain.
Kooragwyn Dam in proper operating mode should be kept empty.
It's storage capacity will probably exceed 2.8m mgl (the maximum flood flow ever was 3.3m mgl - it must be noted that that was for a 12 month period). Clearly, the Bradfield proposals with an empty operating mode at Kooragwyn can provide almost a complete protection for Ingham and the Herbert River Valley.
REVISED BRADFIELD SCHEME
TULLY (KOOLMOON/NITCHAGA) FLINDERS, THOMPSON CAPE & UPPER JOHNSTONE RIVERS
The BSCR terms of reference dealt with the Herbert and Burdekin Rivers only. However, water from the Tully (Koolmoon/Nitchaga Creeks), Flinders, Thompson and Cape Rivers must be considered.
In the last 30 years over 500,000 mgl was available every single year from these streams, with the exception of only one-year in which the yield was 350,000 mgl.
The huge flood flow in the Flinders, Cape and Thompson Rivers is so brief and infrequent as to be unable to sustain any annual farming or irrigation ventures. Because the terrain of the mid-west and central-west is so flat there are no dam sites or even weir sites. These shallow ponded areas being reduced by evaporation rates of over 2 metres/pa. would be economically non-viable. Statistically, in two out of every 10 years there would be negligible production.
However, if Bradfield water could be utilised to replenish a series of small dams, weirs and off stream storage along the Flinders and Thompson Rivers, it seems quite feasible that an extra 20,000 ha of cotton could be sown on both rivers. This benefit would be enhanced through stabilised and increased production of wool and beef - extended along the middle Flinders and middle Thompson Rivers. If the Betts Gorge Creek project is added, the Bradfield proposals extend by a further 50,000 ha.
The addition of the Upper Tully (including Koolmoon, Carpenter, Carron, Unnamed and Nitchaga Creeks) would add 506,000 mgl per year, facilitating a 70% increase in production from the proposals as put forward in the BSCR. (See figures following).
The upper Johnstone River can also be used. Its contribution would be significant (nearly another 70%).
Water available but not included in the B.S.C. Report
NOTE: a)`UPPER JOHNSTONE RIVER NOT INCLUDED - b)PARTS OF UPPER TULLY NOT INCLUDED
ELECTRICITY LOSS $21m pa
Some $21m of power is generated by the HydroElectric power station "Kareeya" on the Tully River. This loss of production can be offset by a low head; high volume HydroElectric power station or stations built on the Bradfield storages.
Some 300m of head and 650 mgl of water are available at the Tully River, whilst l00m of head and 1.5 mgl are available on the upper Burdekin.
OPERATING COSTS OF SCHEME - $41 million pa
More importantly, by siting the next thermal station on the commercially non-viable coal reserve of the remote Galilee Basin (i.e. Pentland) there can be a very sizeable cost saving to the electricity consumers of Queensland. Since the coal has no alternative market, it can be taken on a cost plus basis at minimal prices, and since the station is sited at the coalmine, unlike other power stations, it has no rail freight on coal component (a cost saving of around 20% per unit).
Effectively, no base load power station exists in North Queensland. All FNQ electricity requirements are generated in Central Queensland at a cost of around 2c/kwt.hr. Around 20% of the electricity generated in Central Queensland's power stations are lost in transmission to FNQ.
These two factors should provide a cost saving of nearly 40% on most of the electricity generated to FNQ.
The Galilee Basin, it must be noted, cannot be opened up for electricity production unless there is some source of water to run the turbines. Some 20,000 mgl has been set aside for a 1,000MW power station at Pentland.
One of the most important issues is the annual operating cost of $430/ha. No details are given of how this cost was comprised.
Upon a "totality costing' basis if the outlay by the Nation is $3.04 billion and the annual income produced by this project for the Nation is $2.55 million then this is the only relevant valid costing method.
However, real operating costs for example pumping and maintenance costs most be accounted for.
Whilst maintenance costs can be covered by a moderate per megalitre charge of $10/mgltr charge for a Stage 3 development would provide $16.9 million pa.
Requiring farmers to pay interest and redemption on the cost of construction of the project would create a prohibitive charge and render the farmer's non-viable.
The cost of pumping should be nil since delivery to all farms is by gravity feed and because the Great West Aqueduct follows the water divides.
The Great Western Aqueduct starts at the delivery point of the water from the Burdekin about 40 - 50 klms approx. due south of Hughenden (i.e. 6 klms WSW of Peronne Homestead Elevation at 1075').
Since Route 7B discharges into Torrens Creek, 8 klms above Ulva H/S and the Elevation at this point is 1070', and since the water is delivered from Mt Foxton Dam where full supply level is 1213' gring a fall of 143' over a distance of 415 klms - a fall of 4.2"/krn delivers water at a pumping cost of only $0.7 million pa.
Route 8 is approximately 600 klms long at 4.2ins (10cms) fall/km delivery would require a head of 600 x 4.2 - 210 feet. Since start point of Great Western Aqueduct is at Elevation 1075' and since the full supply level at Hells Gate Dam is Elevation 1279', pumping cost should be about the same as in Route 7B - under $1 million pa.
On the Upper Burdekin River, whilst the full supply level at Hells Gates is 1279, even the minimum delivery level point just on top of the banks of the river would still be 1115'.
The fall is the same as in Route 7B in the B.S.C.R. and since the pumping costs in Route 7B are $0.7 million pa. the pumping costs for Route 8 would also be around $0.7 million pa.
This again would be an approach similar to that used in California - water charges in California (where water is brought hundreds of kilometres) is charged out to the farmers at only $3.90/mgltr.
195.2 million extra people by Year 2040
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Prospects 2019. Online Edition.
COMPILED AT REQUEST BY THE STATISTICS GROUP OF THE PARLIAMENTARY RESEARCH SERVICE
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Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870