Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Murray Darling to benefit from water efficiency projects

Media release
10 December 2012

The Gillard Government is supporting more than 300 irrigators across the southern Murray-Darling Basin to improve their irrigation efficiency and return more water to the environment.

Water Minister, Tony Burke, today announced that five regional organisations and irrigation businesses will share in $100 million to upgrade their on-farm infrastructure in the latest round of the Government’s On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program.

The organisations are the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia Inc, Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd, Fruit Growers Victoria Limited, the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board and Waterfind.

The On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program has already supported more than 850 irrigators boost their water efficiency and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to restoring the Murray-Darling Basin’s rivers and wetlands to health, supporting strong regional communities, and ensuring sustainable food production.

“Last month, the Gillard Government delivered a final Murray-Darling Basin Plan that will restore our rivers to health, support regional communities and sustainable food production,” Mr Burke said.

“These are the sorts of projects that provide social and economic benefits for communities in the Basin.

"The infrastructure upgrades and improved water efficiency will allow irrigators to enhance farm production and invest in other parts of their enterprises.

“The water savings from the projects will benefit wetlands and river environments across the Basin.”

The Commonwealth will receive a projected 36.7 gigalitres of water entitlement (which equals 29.1 gigalitres on a long term annual yield basis) from these irrigation efficiency projects for the environment, representing at least 50 per cent of the water saved through the work.

“This is an example of how government, industry and communities are working together on win-win projects that help achieve long term reforms in the Murray-Darling Basin. The outcomes of these will mean future droughts can be faced with greater social, economic and ecological resilience,” Mr Burke said.

Projects will include laser levelling of paddocks, upgrading overhead irrigation, replacing flood irrigation, modernising drip irrigation systems and installing soil moisture monitoring and automation equipment.

All irrigator projects will be within the southern connected system of the Murray-Darling Basin. The southern connected system for Round Three of the program encompasses the New South Wales Murray, Victorian Murray, South Australian Murray, Campaspe, Murrumbidgee, Goulburn, Broken, Loddon and the Lower Darling (south of Menindee Lakes) river catchments.

The On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program is part of the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure scheme under the Government’s Water for the Future initiative.

Further information about the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program is available at http://www.environment.gov.au/water/policy-programs/srwui/irrigation-efficiency/index.html.