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Water projects drive job creation, new study finds

Projects created for the protection and improvement of creeks, rivers and other water bodies are powerful drivers of job creation, according to new research commissioned by the South East Queensland Council of Mayors.

The study shows catchment and land management projects generate around 5.3 jobs per $1 million in capital expenditure, a figure exceeding the Queensland Treasury’s benchmark of 3.1 jobs per $1 million investment.

Around $30 million a year is required to effectively manage South-East Queensland’s creeks and rivers, as well as Moreton Bay, which would generate more than 150 direct jobs every year within the region.

However, despite water project job creation, catchment and land management initiatives receive no direct investment as part of the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

Council of Mayors Chair and Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the council's investment in the region’s catchments has now been proven to bolster long-term economic, social and environmental improvements.

“When we don’t invest in our catchments effectively it results in higher costs for water treatment, the reduction of prime agricultural land, and contributes to the devastating impacts that severe weather events have on our communities,” he said.

“Beyond COVID-19, South-East Queensland will continue to deal with the challenges of droughts, floods and severe weather events and the financial burden this creates for our communities and businesses.”

Return on investment

Schrinner said the results of the study offer good incentive for the Queensland Government to back water management initiatives with investment, given the extra benefit of job creation.

“The SEQ Mayors recognise the environmental and economic benefits of these projects and have invested more than $4 million to-date under our Resilient Rivers program,” he said.

“We encourage the State Government to join with us in investing in South-East Queensland’s catchments as a way to create jobs and stimulate the economy while addressing the region’s environmental challenges.”

Established in 2014, the Resilient Rivers Initiative is a coordinated and strategic approach to the management and investment in the region’s creeks, rivers and Moreton Bay.

The SEQ Council of Mayors’ initial investment of $4.3 million has created 23 direct and 14 indirect full-time jobs, and has generated around $2.1 million in total economic output for South-East Queensland.

Lockyer Valley Mayor Tanya Milligan said catchment improvement projects created a range of opportunities for employment, particularly in regional areas.

“Catchment improvement projects are a great recovery tool for regional communities. They create jobs throughout the region’s catchments and offer an easy option for job seekers to build new skills,” she said.

“An important aspect of the Resilient Rivers Initiative has been its focus on creating new roles in areas like the Lockyer Valley, where locals are upskilled and that expertise then stays within our community.

“The idea of being able to protect Queensland’s natural assets while also creating jobs and economic uplift is a win-win in anyone’s view.”