Jason Hall has found a number of viable routes for a fully gravitational surface aqueduct to the Murray Darling Basin from Northern Queensland.

Previously, we showed a gravitational route from the upper Burdekin River, crossing the Great Dividing Range at Lake Buchanan or Lake Galilee, and through to Blackall. Jason has found a number of potential routes from Blackall down the Bulloo Valley to St George in the MDB in Queensland, or Bourke in the MDB in NSW.

This is the first publication of a fully gravitational surface route for watering the entire inland of Queensland and New South Wales with an inland river of flood waters.

While a number of so-called ‘drought-breaking’ schemes have been touted recently including raising dam walls, the following problems with these approaches are not spoken or not appreciated.

  • Limitations of local dams. A single dam can provide limited storage. In drought, it is depleted rapidly by demand, and in flood most goes over the spillway. Drought-busting requires water to be conveyed long distances from high rainfall to low rainfall areas, to smooth out rainfall variations due to seasons or random variation in rainfall.
  • Large dams at low altitudes. Lower catchment dams generally require irrigation water pipelines and pumping and do not make use of the free gravitational force for moving water around. Viable irrigation schemes require water to be delivered at the lowest cost possible that gravitational channels can provide.
  • Tunnels and pipelines. A long surface aqueduct may include in-line water reservoirs that both contribute to the water supply en route and enable local irrigation schemes all along the route.

The routes marked on the image are potential gravitational aqueduct with different start and end points. Together they would compromise a new ‘inland river’ – I propose calling it the Bradfield River – that would open vast areas of the outback to new irrigation schemes, provide reliable water to townships, safe water to mines of the Galilee Basin, and supplement the dwindling supply of water to the Murray Darling Basin.