Australia Wants Water Piped from PNG

By MarEx 2014-01-30 18:58:00

The Papua New Guinea government has approved a proposal to pipe water to the northern tip of Australia, reports local media.

An Australian company, Might & Power Australia Pty Ltd has been engaged to do a feasibility study on this proposed project in joint venture with local firm, Water PNG, the state-owned enterprise with the responsibility for provision and management of water supply and sewerage services throughout Papua New Guinea (PNG) except in the National Capital District.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Cabinet in a recent meeting endorsed the proposal to look at the possibility of piping water from the Southern Highlands Province to Queensland. “Cabinet has considered this proposal and has endorsed it as an important project with immense commercial, social and economic benefits for both Australia and PNG.

“This project seeks to utilize PNG’s abundant water resources to supply Australian users in the Murray/Darling Basin where there is a huge existing demand. It is expected that with the increase in population in the eastern part of Australia, water security will become critical in the immediate and long term.

The Murray-Darling Basin is one of the most significant agricultural areas in Australia. The concept to pipe water there was first brought up in 2008. Australia's climate is one of the most uncertain in the world and has been characterized by episodes of severe droughts. These water crises have promoted successive periods of water reform in the country, and Australia is recognized as a world leader in water policy. In the past, the country has considered schemes to ship water around the country by water tanker ships, but these have not eventuated.

In Papua New Guinea, most of the population lives in hard to reach rural areas with little or no public services, and around 900 children die each year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. The government intends to increase access to clean, safe water supply from 39 per cent to 100 per cent by 2050.