By Jess Baker
The Southern Downs and Granite Belt scored some small wins in the 2021-22 federal budget delivered by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday.
Through its $3.5 billion National Water Grid Fund, the Morrison government is investing $258 million in new dams, irrigation projects and accelerated pathways to complete small-scale water infrastructure – including water infrastructure in Warwick.
Budget documents revealed $500,000 would go towards the Warwick Recycled Water for Agriculture project to upgrade an existing recycled water treatment plant.
The project is expected to increase access to recycled water by up to 3.5 megalitres per day and support up to 10 existing and future businesses.
Southern Downs mayor Vic Pennisi said the money would go some way to improving one of the region’s key assets.
“We’ve got $1 billion worth of assets and $500 million of them are under the ground,” Mayor Pennisi said.
“Any money that we can have in relation to upgrading those sorts of facilities will be money well spent and well received and we’re very grateful for them.”
The project is jointly funded by the Australian government and Southern Downs Regional Council, with $1.6 million coming from the council.
Construction is expected to be completed in late 2021.
Also in the 2021-22 budget, the federal government committed to expanding its $1 billion Building Better Regions Fund by a further $250 million for a sixth round.
“Grants of up to $1 million will be available for infrastructure and community investments to make regional areas even better places to live and work,” read the budget documents.
SDRC has submitted a number of projects for Building Better Regions funding in the past, including an expansion of the Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery and streetscape enhancements.
Mayor Pennisi said SDRC has one project in particular in mind for Round 6 of the Fund.
“We’ll probably line up the Saleyards for that fund,” he said.
“If we’re ready and we’ve got all our ducks lined up in a row … we’ll apply for funding for that.”
He said SDRC will consider which other infrastructure projects it would like to nominate for funding under the grants program later down the track.