With approvals in place for the 15 Mile council-backed irrigation project and the Hughenden meatworks, the Flinders Shire is recovering well from the 2016 railway job losses and another piece of the economic jigsaw could soon be about to fall into place.
That piece is the Hughenden Irrigation Project Corporation, or HIPCO for short.
HIPCO got a major financial boost in the last federal budget with $180 million allocated to its development though HIPCO chair Shane McCarthy said the project is not yet ready to access that money.
"We are at the point where we've been given two million by the federal government to get it to the shovel ready stage and we are about halfway through that, doing the final stages of design and the business case," Mr McCarthy said.
"We should have that finished by the end of the year."
At that point HIPCO would be able to access the larger pool of money as well as seeking new investment from farmers who want to move away from the Murray-Darling system.
Mr McCarthy said that when complete the project would deliver 85,000 litres of water a year to grow hay, fodder and high value crops on 10,000 hectares of irrigable land
"We are also looking at hydroelectricity as a way of getting water into the dam and out of the dam and that will be able to supply stable electricity."
He said hydroelectricity would back up the wind and solar projects already in the Hughenden area to provide base load.
"We'll be storing around 500,000 megalitres in one or two dams," he said.
"We are evaluating two sites at the moment, both have advantages and disadvantages, so we are trying to tie down which one will be best value, or maybe if the government is generous enough maybe do both of them."
Mr McCarthy said they would be taking around two percent of the annual six million megalitre flow of the Flinders, Queensland's largest river.
"It's a very minute part of the flow," he said.
"We'll be able to supply large scale water and cheap water to both projects," he said.
"It does nothing but enhance them. It may even supply the town as well."
Mr McCarthy said the idea of large-scale irrigation in the mid North West was a long-held dream.
"I've got pile of papers at home you could barely jump over, one was written by Bob Katter when he was a junior minister in the Joh Bjelke Petersen government," he said.
"It's been around for a while and finally we are getting some traction on it."
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