Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The Hon Peter Walsh MP

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security
Minister for Water

Lindsay Island Environmental Works Project

Joint media release
9 January 2013

Lindsay Island in the Murray Sunset National Park will be Victoria’s first project to recover water for the environment using the Murray Darling-Basin Plan adjustment mechanism.

Under the Basin Plan, states can put forward projects to recover water for the environment through environmental works and measures using funds that had been allocated for buyback.

Federal Minister for Water Tony Burke acknowledged Victoria’s initiative and said that the Gillard Government welcomes Basin states’ efforts to use environmental water in a smarter way to achieve environmental outcomes.

“This project is a win-win, it’s a great chance to deliver on our environmental objectives but use less water. Using water in a more effective way means less water will need to be recovered from Basin communities without risking the health of the environment,” Mr Burke said.

“When I announced the final Murray Darling-Basin Plan at the National Press Club, I said that we would work to use the mechanism in the Plan to reach the same environmental outcomes without requiring so much buy-back.

“I said that there could be up to 650 gigalitres (GL) of water which would not be required to be obtained through buy-back without sacrificing the environmental outcomes described at 2,750 GL.

“This is why we put the mechanism in the plan. Lindsay Island provides a real prospect of using methods other than buyback.”

Victorian Minister for Water Peter Walsh said significant works had already been undertaken at Lindsay Island through The Living Murray program. Feasibility work funded by the Commonwealth Government is currently looking at the next stage for this project, which is expected to add even greater environmental value, without the requirement for further water.

“There are substantial outcomes that can be achieved from this project for both the community and the environment. Under the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) Adjustment Mechanism, projects such as Lindsay Island will have an important role in realising major benefits at Victoria’s important environmental sites,” Mr Walsh said.

“Importantly, environmental works and measures can reduce the future requirements for buyback from Victorian irrigators.

“Initial feasibility studies have indicated that the Lindsay Island proposal can achieve, at that site, better environmental outcomes than have been identified in the 3,200GL modelling.

“We believe that these outcomes can be delivered for approximately $56 million, which is a good investment towards triple bottom line outcomes,” Mr Walsh said.

Mr Burke welcomed Victoria’s commitment to realising the full potential of the Lindsay Island project.

Subject to the Lindsay Island project being approved under the SDL adjustment mechanism, as outlined in the Basin Plan, Commonwealth funds will be made available for the project, to the market value of the water offset it will achieve, subject to due diligence.

The works would provide benefits to 6,000 hectares (ha) of floodplain, wetlands and creek lines, and achieve the ecological objectives set for Lindsay Island in the Basin Plan, by using less water more effectively, requiring less water to be recovered from Basin communities under the Plan.

The project’s design scope is well advanced and would be likely to include:

  • Berribee Regulator: a new, large structure which inundates around 3,700 ha, and retains water on the floodplain for a longer period of inundation. 
  • Six smaller structures to manage water at other sites:
    • Wallawalla East and West, which inundate over 900 ha;
    • Crankhandle wetland complex & Crankhandle West, which inundate over 300 ha;
    • Lindsay River South, which inundates 225 ha; and
    • the North-west of Lindsay Island, which inundates almost 500 ha.

The Berribee Regulator has been designed to simulate floods equivalent of up to 80,000 megalitres (ML) per day. The additional works are able to simulate floods above a 130,000 ML per scenario.

Minister Walsh said that the Victorian Coalition Government had always been a strong advocate for Commonwealth support for projects that achieved better environmental outcomes under the Basin Plan with less held environmental water.