SCENIC Rim Regional Council has reminded Warrill and Fassifern Valley producers that they have until Monday 15 March to formally register their interest in the proposed Water for Warrill Irrigation Project.
Water industry experts Jacobs, engaged by the Scenic Rim Regional Council to undertake the feasibility study said strong data on the district's current and future demands for water was the first thing they needed to move the project forward.
"There were more people than we expected at two public meetings and the feedback has been very positive. We're at the very beginning of a multi-step process and the critical first step is for all stakeholders to register their genuine interest through an expression of interest," Jacobs principal advisor Angus MacDonald said.
"Jacobs has seen time and time again how farmers turn additional water into more produce, profit and jobs. We also know that typically Australians wait until the second round of consultation before they put their hands up, but that will be too late. We implore you to put an EOI in now."
Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause said he attended one of the information sessions about the proposal.
"I encourage every grower who irrigates and needs more water to consider how they might be able to use more water in the future," he said.
"This infrastructure project would bring an amazing boost to the Fassifern region. Water is key, and water means more jobs. It is important, at this early feasibility stage, to ensure as much potential interest in accessing new water is identified as is possible."
Horticultural farmer and member of the project's reference group, Mitchell Brimblecombe described it as a "once in a generation chance to underpin the future of agriculture in the Scenic Rim".
"We have an immediate water issue with low dam levels and restricted irrigation allocations this year but there is also consensus that we have a long-term water problem that requires both innovation and investment," Mr Brimblecombe said.
"The EOI forms are non-binding, there's nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting involved, for your farming business, for your neighbours and for the community at large.
"We want to maintain our competitiveness with other growing regions. Access to a new secure water supply would allow us to increase our growing capacity and market share."
"Our family understands first-hand that an opportunity to get three tiers of government working together on new water infrastructure is rare, we don't want to miss out.".
Mr Brimblecombe's father Linton said he was the inaugural chairman of the Lockyer Water Users Forum that lobbied the Howard Government in 2007 on water security issues.
"Our funding bid 14 years ago was unsuccessful but we're wiser to the process now and while I'm still a keen observer of the progress being made by the Lockyer and Somerset Water Collaborative, it's time for the Warrill and Fassifern Valleys to step up," he said.
"Local government has done their part to kick things off by funding the feasibility study. They've shown us they're serious about supporting agriculture so now we have to do our part by providing the on-farm information."
Mr MacDonald said the information gathered by Jacobs in the EOIs would be aggregated, meaning individuals and businesses won't be identified.
"Producers can confidentially record on a sliding price scale the quantity of water their business uses now, and more importantly, they can indicate how much water they'd like to access to expand in the future," he said.
"There is no financial obligation and no guarantee that the project will proceed, we are simply gauging demand. We are also measuring the upfront capital investment irrigators are prepared to make to access a tradeable water product with 90-99 per cent reliability, in addition to water allocation costs."
More information about the Water for Warrill Irrigation Project is available on council's website scenicrim.qld.gov.au/say including a downloadable version of the expression of interest form.