Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

$469 million for NSW to deliver major rural water infrastructure projects

Media release
10 June 2012

The Gillard Government today announced support for new water infrastructure projects in New South Wales to improve the health of the Murray-Darling Basin system.

Federal Water Minister Tony Burke has approved $469 million in funding to support four major projects that will return an average of 80 billion litres of water to the system each year as part of the Basin-wide commitment to infrastructure projects.

Mr Burke said the funding would equip farmers in NSW with world-class irrigation technology and improve rural water management systems.

"I am determined that Murray Darling Basin reform delivers healthy rivers, strong communities and sustainable food production," he said.

"A resilient river system in the Murray Darling Basin is important for communities, sustainable food production and the environment.

"We can achieve this by investing in infrastructure upgrades and improving the efficiency and productivity of our irrigation industry while we also recover water for the rivers.

"The funding for NSW is part of the $5 billion the Federal Government is providing to for infrastructure investment in irrigation modernisation and related projects across the Basin.

"The water acquired from these projects will be used to improve the health of Murray-Darling Basin rivers, wetlands and floodplains and make an important contribution towards reaching the sustainable diversion limits under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

"All of the water saved through this package will be achieved through improved water infrastructure efficiency. It means irrigators can increase productivity through improved technology and there is more water to return to our precious environment."

The four major rural water infrastructure projects supported by the funding were proposed by NSW for delivery under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform.

Projects to be delivered under the agreement will improve on-farm irrigation systems for farmers, increase stock and domestic water supply and introduce new, modernised metering and telemetry systems.

The key elements of the four projects are:

  • $137 million for the 'Basin Pipes' project to replace inefficient replenishment schemes and stock and domestic license schemes with new and secure pipelines;
  • $83 million for an 'Irrigated Farm Modernisation' program in the Macquarie, Namoi, Gwydir and Border Rivers Valleys, additional to the $6.6 million already spent on an on-farm pilot program in the Border Rivers and Gwydir Valley
  • $198.6 million for a state-wide program to upgrade rural water meters in addition to the $22.4 million already committed to a pilot project in the upper Murray Valley, with a total project value of $221 million; and
  • $50 million to implement the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy.

Mr Burke said the water entitlements to be transferred to the Commonwealth for environmental water use over the next six years would make a significant contribution to 'bridging the gap' to sustainable diversion limits under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.