Moree Ski park option ‘kills two birds’ 

EVER since Boobera Lagoon was taken over by the Local Aboriginal Land Council a couple of years ago, Moree people have had nowhere to ski.

But 2013 could mark an exciting new chapter in the town’s two-year quest to establish a water ski park – and also serendipitously solve the problem of where to get rid of the saline water from the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre (MACC).

A $500,000 grant has been applied for by Moree Shire Plains Council to the Regional Development Australia Fund and the outlook is promising.

Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) last week gave the council the go-ahead to now make a full application in the round-three stage.

It joins several other projects from around the North West also selected to proceed (see separate story).

RDANI chief executive officer Nathan Axelsson said he was impressed with the council plan for the water ski park.

“It’s a very innovative project,” Mr Axelsson said.

Moree councillor James Von Drehnen is excited at the possibilities the new water ski park, to be situated near the Moree Waste Management Facility 12km south of town, would offer.

The environmental impact study required for the project would be completed by the end of March, he said.

Once they started earthworks, it would be a gradual process over three years of building individual water “cells” as water became available and increased in volume. 

As each cell filled up, they would knock out the walls between it and the next available cell, slowly increasing the area underwater.

“We’re generating about 400 megalitres a year from MACC and others and we need a hectare per 10 megalitres, so essentailly we need 40 hectares,” he said.

Cr Von Drehnen said if the grant money was approved, it would take about six months for the ski park to become operational as the number of cells increased. 

He said the Environmental Protection Authority told council about five years ago it had six months to stop allowing saline water to go into the Mehi River or face the MACC being closed.

“The council and the community are obligated to keep the spent water from the hot pools from going into the river,” he said.

Council’s idea to establish a desalination plant to deal with the MACC’s saline water had been kicked around for a few years but was eventually abandoned.

“The numbers just didn’t add up. That seemed to offer a solution but the operating costs were so high and it was very environmentally unfriendly,” Cr Von Drehnen said.

The idea to create a 40-hectare water ski park solved two problems – and it made sense for it to be within the recycling precinct near the tip and to create a flora and fauna reserve also as part of the project, Cr Von Drehnen said.

“I think this is really quite exciting: we’re going down a road we should be going down anyway,” he said.

A pipeline to pipe water from the MACC was built by council about two years ago.

Region projects make progress

REGIONAL Development Australia Northern Inland has welcomed the announcement of local projects proceeding to full-application stage for rounds three and four of the Regional Development Australia Fund.

The Joblink Plus E-Waste Recycling Facility in Tamworth, under the round-four funding, is one project approved to proceed to the next stage.

Round three is worth $50 million and will provide grants of between $50,000 and $500,000 for projects located in towns with a population of 30,000 or less (which Moree falls under).

Round four will allocate $175 million through grants of between $500,000 and $15 million for priority regional infrastructure projects that also use funding from state and local governments and the private sector.

Regional projects selected to proceed to full application in round three are:

* Glen Innes Severn Council’s Aviation College;

* Moree Plains Shire Council’s Evergreen Precinct Spa Water Reuse Facility and Artesian Recreational Reserve;

* Gwydir Shire Council’s Centre for Regenerative Agriculture at the Living Classroom;

* Pathfinder’s Tilbuster Station Development (to create a multipurpose youth service and community facility for the Armidale area); and

* Inverell Shire Council’s Varley Oval Sporting Complex Redevelopment.

Tamworth Regional Council’s plan for construction of rugby league playing fields and associated works at Chaffey Park, Manilla, did not get approval to go through to round three.

In round four the successful projects are:

* Tenterfield Shire Council’s Northern Growth Corridor (Mt Lindesay Rd upgrade);

* The Joblink Plus E-Waste Recycling Facility in Tamworth; and

* Walcha Shire Council Consortium – Thunderbolts Way upgrade.

The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport will assess all applications initially before eligible ones go on to an independent advisory panel. Funded projects will be announced from June.

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