Category: Bradfield Scheme

Interactive Map of Revised Bradfield Scheme

It is really amazing what can be done with geographic information on the web now. Above is an interactive Revised Bradfield Scheme that I did up in a few hours using Queensland Globe for editing, and ArcGIS for sharing. ArcGIS allows a paste into a web document or a web app so I will certainly be looking into that in the future.

Click on the plus or minus to zoom in or out. All locations are approximate. The legend for the above is as follows.

The shaded green polygons are dams: Hells Gate Dam in the north and the two storages Lake Buchanan and Lake Galilee in the south. They are connected by a red line which is the northern collector aqueduct, harvesting flows from the Burdekin river and creeks along the way to the main storages. The green lines are the distribution aqueducts, transferring water from the two storages to the main northern areas of the black earth country from Hughenden to Richmond and Julia Creek and the southern distributor to Longreach and Winton. Blue lines are watercourses – of course.

The red dots are open water monitoring stations that provide daily flow data. The black square is the approximate location of Adani Mine which may also potentially draw water from the scheme. The opaque light green areas are protected environment such as national parks – demonstrating the scheme does not impact any existing protected area.

Zoom in far enough and the contours come into view. Please note the locations of the routes are approximate at present. There is a great deal of work to be done to refine the scheme as we are at a preliminary feasibility assessment stage.

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Categories: Bradfield Scheme

Roman Aqueducts – then and now

The groundwater at Rome was notoriously unpalatable, and water from the Tiber was unsafe to drink. Aqua Appia, Rome’s first aqueduct (312 BC) was commissioned by the censor Appius Claudius Caecus as a publicly funded major project.

By the late 3rd century AD, Roman aqueducts supplied Rome with water by a combined conduit length of 800 kilometres, of which only 47 km were carried above ground level by the familiar masonry supports. They supplied around 1 million cubic metres (ie 10,000 GigaLitres) a day; enough to supply a modern city of population of 10 million. The longest was the Constantinople (Turkey) around 500 km. Gradients for Roman Aqueduct were 1:4800 and typically around a metre wide and deep with a flow rate estimated to be about 35,000 m3 /day (or 350GL/day) depending on the season .

With the fall of the Roman Empire, some aqueducts were deliberately cut by enemies but many more fell into disuse through lack of organized maintenance. Their failure had an impact on the population of cities; Rome declined from its high of over 1 million people in the Imperial era to as low as 30,000 in the medieval era. 

The New Bradfield Scheme is very similar length, capacity and function to the Roman aqueducts being totally gravity fed. With an estimated fall of 1:5000, 100m from Hell’s Gate over a distance of 500 km to the Lakes Buchanan and Galilee Storages, a wider, lined channel could easily provide the 20,000GL per annum. Harvesting the flow from streams along would be possible, or desirable helping to reduce flooding lower in the catchments and leading to potentially greater harvest rates. Spillways would dump the excess if the water level got too high.

As Sir Humphrey Appleby said about public projects (‘Yes, Minister’): “Anything is possible for government, so long as it isn’t the first time.” The Roman Empire has done a similar-sized gravity-fed aqueduct system 2000 years ago.

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Categories: Bradfield Scheme

Elevations of Locations in Bradfield Scheme

The experts say it can’t be done, but a close look at the elevations of the sources, storages and destinations for the Bradfield Scheme says otherwise.

The ideal gradient for an open gravity-fed irrigation channel is 1:5000 or 100m per 500 km. Any flatter and the flow slows and steeper risks damage. This is the typical gradient for the Roman aqueduct system totaling over almost 1000 km delivering 10,000 GigaLitres of fresh water to Rome per day.

In an eastern Bradfield Scheme, the elevation goes from 430m at Niall near the Burdekin River to Lake Buchanan over the 500km to the main storage at 340m at Lake Buchanan and 280m on Lake Galilee. This is an average gradient of 1:5000.

The water could potentially be distributed throughout the whole of the fertile black soil plains area of Central West Queensland, from Barcaldine at 267m and Aramac at 226m, to Longreach and Richmond at around 200m, as far as Julia Creek at 132m about 500 km from Barcaldine (light blue polygon). Again 1:5000.

The topography starts to rise towards Hughenden at 318m and Blackall 284m and so would set the furthest extent for a gravity-fed supply. However, the land continues to fall towards Birdsville 48m and Innaminika 16m and so could continue to be fed in a south-western direction.

The Tully Falls near Cairns at 670m elevation and Herbert River are viable sources of gravity-fed inflow to the scheme.

The black soil plains of Central West Queensland currently support mainly low intensity grazing due to the irregular water availability. However, they are well located to supply communities to the north, south, east and west with higher value agricultural products, including irrigated cotton, wheat, and horticultural products. This would be enabled by a well established infrastructure of rail and road connections.

Water from the scheme would also augment town water supplies, many of which are under extreme pressure, where the drought-hit town of Ilfracombe has even imported a temporary desalination plant.

Water from the eastern portion of the scheme may largely flow to the Muttaburra, Aramac, Longreach and Barcaldine area, while from the western portion of the scheme fed by Gulf rivers may supplement areas such as Richmond and Julia Creek.

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Categories: Bradfield Scheme

Proposal for a mini-Bradfield Irrigation Scheme

Above is a schematic diagram of a gravity-fed mini-Bradfield Scheme transporting water from the coastal rivers via a levy/pipeline combination (blue) to the storage and distribution lakes on the Great Dividing Range (green).

The levy would accumulate water from the Burdekin River at Hell’s Gate (note the dam would not be needed) and acquire the additional water en route at the Basalt, Campaspe and Cape Rivers (purple). These are headwater collections and so would not impact the regular flows greatly, and help to mitigate flood flows downstream.

The storage lakes of Lake Buchanan and Lake Galilee are currently dry salt lakes whose capacity would be greatly expanded by dams at a few strategic locations. The lakes are uniquely positioned at intermediate elevations on the Great Dividing Range allowing stored water to be gravity fed to the destinations.

From the storage lakes, channels or pipelines would distribute the water where and when needed – to industrial uses east of the Divide such as the Adani Mine, and to new irrigation areas west of the Divide around Muttaburra, Aramac, Barcaldine and Longreach.

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Bradfield Scheme Helps to Support Rural Immigration Policies


The Morrison government will try to lure skilled migrants away from the nation’s choked cities with a new visa requiring them to spend at least three years in regional Australia as a condition of seeking permanent residency.

Under proposed changes, backpackers will now be able to stay with agricultural employers beyond six months and will be able to triple the length of their stay if they do extra agricultural work.  This is a move which is aimed at rural Australia and farmers specifically.

The Bradfield Scheme would dramatically boost agricultural production in rural Australia up to $50 billion per annum.

Creating a network of dams and pipelines in outback Australia would help reverse the population drift to the major coastal cities. Towns would develop to service new agricultural activities. Transport and tourism would follow, with the necessary transport infrastructure being developed. This would encourage greater travel through, and more settlement in, the great Australian outback.

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Categories: Bradfield Scheme

Making a fly-through video of parts of the Bradfield Scheme

This was my first go at finding a viable gravity-only route from a coastal river to the inland catchments. Gravity-feed is so important for keeping the cost of the water down. In this case, it flows into the Cooper Creek in the Galilee Basin that feeds into Lake Eyre from the Burdekin River at Hell’s Gate. This route goes via Lake Bradfield, currently a salt lake, which could serve as a temporary storage (about 14,000GL) and feed east to Adani Mine or other parts of the Bowen Basin, south to Lake Galilee and west to Muttaburra.

Soon I will get an actual route from Leon. I used http://plotaroute.com to develop a kml file of the route line, opened the kml file in Google Earth Pro (free) and captured the video with Fraps (Pro).

Note that Leon’s design is an integrated pipeline and levy. The levy would pick up fairly substantial flows along the way from the Cape River and the Campaspe River as well before it goes around the Thalanga Mine or Campaspe to head north up to the Basalt River. It gets a bit rough from there to Hell’s Gates and would need careful route planning, but even if it stops short at the Basalt River, Leon estimates it could catch and deliver maybe 2,000 – 3,000 GL or so per year to Aramac & Adani within 12 months. It then can later be connected to Hell’s Gate and deliver an extra 8,000 GL or so, then with the Herbert and Tully rivers add in another 3,000 GL or so.

The agricultural production alone from the irrigation of 2,000 km2 of land around Aramac and Muttaburra could be about $2 billion in produce per year. This plan has the benefits of lower cost (~$8 billion), and staged implementation without requiring the building of Hell’s Gate Dam.

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Supporter of the Bradfield Scheme – Barnaby Joyce

Our nation would create a massive expansion for irrigation, providing a substantial increase in wealth and vital economic stimulus for far western towns including Augathella, Charleville, Cunnamulla and Bourke. Additionally this would also provide the vital water for Menindee Lakes and lower lakes in South Australia. It would find a solution to the impossible equation we’re trying to solve now, of where do you get water when you have none.


OPINION: Australia needs the Bradfield scheme
Barnaby Joyce is an Australian politician who served as the leader of the National Party from February 2016 to February 2018, and was Deputy Prime Minister of Australia from February 2016 to October 2017 and from December 2017 to February 2018.
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Will the Bradfield Scheme benefit the Great Barrier Reef?

A recent study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution journal provides support for better control over flood flows such as would be captured by the New Bradfield Scheme and redirected to storage dams inland. Flood flows carry debris, sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants into the coastal regions – and add further stress to the Great Barrier Reef. Improving local water quality may help some reefs better withstand the bleaching impacts of climate change.

Using a composite water quality index, we find that while reefs exposed to poor water quality are more resistant to coral bleaching, they recover from disturbance more slowly and are more susceptible to outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish and coral disease—with a net negative impact on recovery and long-term hard coral cover. 

See Dirty water biggest risk to reef recovery in the Australian.


Water quality mediates resilience on the Great Barrier Reef

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Supporters of the New Bradfield Scheme are ‘thinking outside the square.’

Sir Leo Hielscher and Sir Frank Moore have updated the Bradfield Scheme, originally conceived in the 1930s by the man who designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The proposal calls for a series of dams, pipelines and irrigation channels across Queensland, aimed at opening up vast areas of the state to agriculture and hydroelectric power creation.

Retiring at age 83, after 68 years in the public service, Sir Leo made an “unrivalled contribution to Queensland” since he took a job with the state audit office in 1942, aged 15. He established Gladstone as an industrial and resources hub, negotiated key contracts with mining companies to secure royalties for taxpayers, facilitated the development of Griffith University, Queensland’s casino industry and two coal terminals, and established the Queensland Treasury Corporation. He developed and fully funded the state’s long-term superannuation and employee liabilities, and he drove the planning, financing and construction of the first Gateway bridge in the early 1980s. As a tribute to his services, the dual Gateway bridges were re-named as the Sir Leo Hielscher bridges.

Sir Thomas Moore is an Australian businessman noted for his long-term promotion of the Australian tourism industry in Queensland. He was chair of the Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation Corporation 1978-90, during which time he spearheaded the creation of international airports in Townsville and Cairns. He was chair of the Australian Tourism Industry Association 1984-96, and also chair of the Australian Tourism Research Institute. Moore oversaw the development of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism and was chair of the Centre 1997-2007. He has also served as chair of the Federal Government’s Tourism Forecasting Council, Nature Resorts Limited, Advent Tourism Fund Management Ltd and Great Southern Railway. He was a founding director of Jupiters Limited, a Director of Gold Coast Airport Corporation and a member of the World Travel and Tourism Council.[

In this TEDx talk Sir Leo reflects on the financing of large scale developments that drove the Queensland economy forward from 1926 to 2016, and advises students of the importance of ‘thinking outside the square’ for personal growth and development leading to success.

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Adani Mine Could Help Fund the Lake Buchanan Storage and Aqueduct

It’s so much fun thinking about the New Bradfield Scheme, as it raises as many solutions as it does problems. Water, for a drought-prone nation like ours, is a precious resource. The Adani Coal Mine between Clermont and Charters Towers has been the subject of numerous water-based objections by the Greens, for example:

The mines current water licence allows the mining giant unlimited access to groundwater for 60 years.

One of the world’s last unspoiled desert oases at Doongmabulla Springs could permanently dry up under Adani’s plan to use billions of litres of groundwater.

A plan to use another 10 GigaL per year of water for its mine out of the Suttor River through a new, 61km pipeline in addition to their current water licence.

Less that 60km away lies a component of the New Bradfield Scheme, the Lake Buchanan salt lake (see image), with the potential for 14,440 GL of storage. The idea is that Lake Buchanan storage (once linked up the the infeed from the Hell’s Gate Dam flood flows, which in turn obtains a continuous infeed from the Tully River) could provide Adani Mine with the water it needs for the same price without compromising natural surface flows. Gravity feed is possible as Lake Buchanan elevation is at 300m and Adani mine is 240m. This is a win-win.

The dam and aqueduct developed by Adani could in turn be extended further into the Galilee Coal Basin to supply new mines such as the Hancock PL mine at Alpha.

It remains to be determined if the aqueduct could be extended via gravity feed to existing mines in the Bowen Basin in the east due to elevation limitations, much of which is around 300m. Nevertheless, the New Bradfield Scheme could potentially find customers in new and existing coal mines, who would help to finance the capital costs of development while subsidising the agricultural users en route, and protecting the natural surface and ground water.

At the end of the mines’ life, Australia would have a permanent water infrastructure based around a renewable resource, water, in exchange for the extraction of the limited resource, coal.

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