SMEC has announced it is to lead a 12-month study into the engineering, environmental and economic feasibility of the Hells Gate Dam and Irrigation Scheme in the Upper Burdekin catchment of Northern Queensland, Australia.

The Hells Gate Dam project has been in discussion since 1938 and has been the subject of a number of investigations in the 1970’s through to 2014. This new project will produce the first fully investigated feasibility into the dam and irrigation scheme, and is a precursor to attracting investment for the construction of a multi-billion dollar project over the coming 10 years, said SMEC. The project has nation building significance in that it will double the irrigated agriculture capacity of Northern Australia, and has attracted funding from the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Engaged by Townsville Enterprise Limited (TEL), SMEC will lead a team of local businesses to complete the feasibility study into the one million mega litre dam and 100,000 hectare irrigation scheme.

TEL CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said “It is very important to be able to engage local content, that was a key part of the criteria. The company (SMEC) will use local expertise wherever possible.”

Project scope of work includes: water resource and cropping assessments; agronomy and field studies on soil conditions; concept engineering of Hells Gate Dam, Big Rocks Weir, irrigation infrastructure, power supply, road and associated infrastructure and water delivery to the City of Townsville; ecology and environmental assessment; stakeholder relations; and economic assessments.