Solar pumping from Lake Julius to Mount Isa to happen

Lake Julius is 70 kilometres from Mount Isa. This is Mount Isa's backup water supply, when there is shortages in Lake Moondarra.
Lake Julius is 70 kilometres from Mount Isa. This is Mount Isa's backup water supply, when there is shortages in Lake Moondarra.

PUMPING from Mount Isa’s back-up water supply Lake Julius is usually reserved for drought due to the expense. 

But if solar power is determined it could be just as cheap to pump from Lake Julius, 70 kilometres from the city, as it would from Lake Moondarra.

Mount Isa mayor Joyce McCulloch said cheaper pumping costs from Julius will mean greater year-round recreational use for Mount Isa residents at Lake Moondarra. Less water would be drawn from it. 

“North West Queensland and Mount Isa have been identified as having one of the highest amounts of solar radiation per square metre, so it makes perfect sense for solar projects to be pursued.”

Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Zone (MITEZ) chief executive Glen Graham said the project would set an example of renewable energy across the industry. 

“It has the potential to be one of Australia’s flagship projects," Mr Graham said. 

“I don’t think there are other projects out there associated with pumping water.” 

He said the Australian Renewable Energy Agency might be an option to fund the project. The agency recently announced it would fund $4 million towards turning a disused gold mine near Georgetown into a hydro storage plant. 

The Mount Isa City Council, Mount Isa Water Board and Minister for Water Supply Mark Bailey released a joint statement on Monday stating the pre-feasibility study was completed in June. A concept design was soon to begin. 

Mount Isa Water Board chief executive Stephen Farrelly said the study showed it was viable and would generate savings for its customers. One customer is the Mount Isa City Council. 

“The project is still in its infancy and as is appropriate for such a substantial investment, it will need to progress through a series of approvals before a final investment decision can be made,” Mr Farrelly said. 

“We can see that if successful, it will have great benefits to our customers and the community.” 

State Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter said the project was “the only practical way in the short term to address water costs”. 

"We (KAP) have been pushing the State government support small business investment into solar projects, including cattle stations," Mr Katter said.

The Mount Isa branch of the Labor Party announced last week it would launch a campaign for the needed solar energy system.