The Department of Water has announced Queensland company SunWater as the preferred irrigation water service provider for the initial stage of the Ord Irrigation Expansion Project (OIEP).
SunWater’s role includes the operation and maintenance of irrigation and supporting infrastructure to service more than 8,000ha of new farmland on the Weaber Plains in the East Kimberley.
Water Minister Graham Jacobs said SunWater was one of Australia’s leading water providers for major irrigation schemes and managed 40 per cent of the water used commercially in Queensland.
Dr Jacobs said SunWater had demonstrated experience in enhancing indigenous engagement and would employ local staff. It had a record of more than 80 years as a regional and remote area water service provider using local trades and suppliers.
“The rigorous selection process ensured healthy competition from the water and irrigation services industry,” he said.
“The registration of interest process resulted in 27 responses, highlighting the strong, national, interest in the Western Australian project.
“We will now enter into negotiations with SunWater to finalise the scheme design, water pricing arrangements, maintenance contracts and environmental management responsibilities. This is expected to take about six months.
“SunWater will operate and maintain the irrigation distribution system and the Water Corporation will own the main channel.”
The selection was made by an inter-agency panel from the departments of Water; Regional Development and Lands; and LandCorp. It is the first time the State Government has engaged in a competitive process to identify a water service provider.
Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls said the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project was becoming a major hub for agriculture and social development and would be a world-class development.
“This project is a great demonstration of what can be achieved through determination to see through a vision and great social and economic benefits should flow to the East Kimberley,” Mr Grylls said.
“The involvement of Aboriginal people as joint venture partners will provide employment and training for indigenous people.”
The $220million Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project is funded by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program and is complemented by $195million of Commonwealth Government funding for community and infrastructure works.
More information on the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project is available at http://www.royaltiesforregions.wa.gov.au/ord
Office of the Minister for Water - 9213 6900
Office of the Minister for Regional Development - 9213 7000