Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

New water purchase rounds in the Queensland Lower Balonne

Media release
13 November 2012

Water Minister, Tony Burke, today announced a series of three new water purchasing tenders in the Queensland Lower Balonne region of the Murray-Darling Basin.

These tenders will build on the Federal Government's progress with environmental water recovery under the Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin program.

The first tender will open on 19 November 2012, with subsequent tenders to be run in February and April next year. These new tenders are part of the Government's commitment of up to $350 million to purchase water in Queensland.

"Water purchased in this tender will be used to improve the health of the rivers, wetlands and floodplains in this region and will complement our substantial investments in more efficient irrigation infrastructure in the Balonne and more broadly across the Basin," Mr Burke said.

"The Government has made good progress in recovering water for the environment in the Lower Balonne, but more needs to be done in order to meet the local environmental needs as outlined by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in the Proposed Basin Plan.

The Proposed Basin Plan includes a reduction in surface water diversions in order to meet downstream needs in the northern Basin.

However, the Murray Darling Basin Authority intends to conduct further research and investigations into, among other things, the basis for surface water sustainable diversion limits in the northern Basin.

While this review is undertaken, the Government will largely focus its water recovery efforts in the northern Basin on meeting local environmental needs.

"It is important to have a regular market presence in the Lower Balonne catchment so that we are in a position to take advantage of purchase opportunities as and when they arise," Mr Burke said.

"The Government is only buying entitlements from sellers who choose to make sell offers, which include the nominated price at which they are prepared to sell their water entitlement."

The tenders are part of the Government's $3.1 billion Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin program, under its Water for the Future Initiative.

Guidelines and the application forms for both this tender will be available from November 19 by calling 1800 218 478 or visiting www.environment.gov.au/waterpurchasing.