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The Big Rocks Weir Business Case has made substantial progress since Townsville Enterprise Limited signed the Grant Deed with the State Government in late October 2019, the Business Case has been funded by the Federal Government through the North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority. This has been achieved with the assistance of our two major consultants, GHD and KPMG, and the community and stakeholders of the Charters Towers region. This newsletter is an update on the progress of the project since the public meeting was held on 12 February 2020 in Charters Towers. The Australian government has already committed $30 million towards construction of the weir should the final business case show it is viable.  

The major milestones that have been achieved:
  • Milestone 1               Delivery of the Project Management Plan
  • P50                           Preliminary Cost Estimate to construct Big Rocks Weir
  • Reference Design     Bases of Design Report 
  • P90                           Cost Estimate Report 
The major works currently being undertaken:
  • Water allocation options
  • Irrigation/cropping options
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Draft Business Case        Scheduled for 30 June 2020
  • Final Business Case        Scheduled for 31 July 2020
The following reports are due in December 2020:
  • Environmental Impact Statement
  • Cultural Heritage management plan
Big Rocks Weir Design Details
The Big Rocks Weir project comprises of four main components:
  • Weir and storage area
  • Fishway
  • Saddle dam
  • Access tracks
The objectives of Big Rocks Weir is to establish a new water source that provides additional supply security for irrigated agriculture, improved reliability of town water supply, the potential to support future growth of industry and recreational benefits.

The key statistics of the proposed Big Rocks Weir and impacted storage area are summarised in Table 1 (below) based on the current design progress to date. This data will be refined as the Business Case analyses and reference design progresses. The overall layout for the Weir is shown in the figure below.

Studies to date have not identified any significant adverse geological conditions or potential for additional flood impacts following construction as a result of the proposed development.
Native title, cultural heritage investigations, engagement with adjacent landowners and environmental investigations have commenced for the project.
Table 1. Weir design summary
Characteristic Reference Project
Weir type An uncontrolled gravity ogee weir constructed using conventional concrete and a saddle dam on the south bank high flow channel, nominally up to 4.4 m high
Full supply level RL 250.9 m AHD approx.
Storage at full supply level 10,000 ML
Impoundment length (main channel) at full supply level) 16.6 km
Weir length 188 m
Height above riverbed Approx. 13.3 m
Design life 100 years
Associated infrastructure Saddle dam on the right bank 4.4m high and 50.0m long
Access track off the Gregory Development Road leading to Big Rocks for construction and weir maintenance.
Fishway connected to the weir
Image: 3D Big Rocks Weir and Fishway
Big Rocks Weir Economic Opportunities:
  • Additional water allocations available for Upper Burdekin catchment: new agricultural production as a result of access to more reliable water supply.
  • Increase in regional employment from increased agricultural production: This could include employment directly associated with the additional agricultural output within the region, as well as additional indirect employment as a result of additional investment in the region, and additional consumption within the local economy.
  • Increase in regional economic output of the region: Increase in economic output and gross value add for the agriculture industry within the region.
  • Reduced barriers for investment and encouraging diversification: By making further water available to producers, it reduces the current constraints regarding access to reliable water, encouraging the diversification of the local economy and providing additional economic opportunities.
  • Additional water security to Charters Towers: During extended dry periods, additional water storage upstream of Charters Towers weir has the potential to be prioritised for residential and industrial purposes during extended periods of climate variability.
  • Opportunities for new industries to establish in the Charters Towers region due to a secured water supply.
Big Rocks Weir Location
Image: Google Earth 
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