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South Australia Coat of Arms

Joint Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
South Australian Premier
Rob Kerin

24 October 2001

Multi-Million-Dollar Funding Package for Salinity and Water in SA

South Australia is the first state to receive substantial Commonwealth funding under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality with an announcement today of more than $15.1 million being released for key projects.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and South Australian Premier Rob Kerin announced the joint funding allocation in Adelaide today, marking the first financial commitment in the seven-year plan to tackle salinity and water quality in this state.

"South Australia is effectively leading the way in the national action plan, it was the first state to sign and now, the first to receive funding for its key projects to tackle water quality and salinity under a bilateral agreement," Senator Hill said.

Senator Hill and Premier Kerin said The National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality in South Australia focuses on three areas of the State considered to be the worst affected or at risk. The areas are the Lower Murray, South East and Mount Lofty Ranges - Northern Agricultural Districts - Kangaroo Island.

"This funding will support a range of important on-ground actions to improve Adelaide's drinking water, work with land managers on improving agricultural practices, biodiversity conservation and important research," Senator Hill said.

"One key project will see just over $2 million targeting a major project to rehabilitate the Lower Murray Dairy Flats Irrigation Area. The irrigation infrastructure in this area is old and drainage water with high levels of nutrients and salt are spilling into the River Murray.

"The project will trial water re-use technology, upgrade some of the site's infrastructure and work with land managers on improving the efficiency of River Murray irrigation water use. This is the first step toward long-term rehabilitation of an area that is critical to Adelaide's water supply.
Premier Rob Kerin said the announcement was another historic step for South Australia in its bid to tackle salinity in the state and protect vital water resources.

"A $1.5 million project in the Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island and the Northern Agricultural Districts targets the long-term health of water catchments with fencing works, tree planting, water and stream flow monitoring, soil and pasture improvement and preventing erosion along the stream banks. These vital works will help protect critical natural resources, natural wilderness, farming and grazing land along with water supplies critical to urban areas," Mr Kerin said.

"Another project will see nearly $4 million go toward mapping South Australia's worst affected salinity areas. Airborne electromagnetic, magnetic and radiometric techniques will be used to gather vital information about salt movement in the land and water.

"The information gained will be critical for regional salinity and water quality planing processes that will be undertaken as a part of the National Action Plan."

Mr Kerin said the Interim Natural Resource Management Groups set up to develop regional plans to tackle salinity and water quality in the State's worst affected areas were receiving $1 million.

"The Groups are made up of community representatives and this funding will cover administrative costs as well as some communication and information collection activities," Mr Kerin said.

"A further $830 000 will fund specialist teams to help the Groups interpret technical information and develop and implement their plans.

"One of the major activities under this first allocation of National Action Plan funding will target the critical Upper South East Region. Subject to satisfying environmental regulations, $3 million will go toward improving drainage so that there will be less waterlogging and salinity on the agricultural land.

"The management of valuable wetland areas such as the internationally important Coorong wetlands and Tilley Swamp will also be improved.
"Engineering constructions to prevent salt entering waterways are likely to be necessary in some cases. That's why we've allocated $1 million to investigate the possible use of salt interception schemes in some areas of the State.

"A saline disposal strategy for the next 15 - 30 years will also be developed as a part of this project."

More information on the National Action Plan is available from

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Media enquiries:
Senator Hill: Belinda Huppatz 08 82377920 or 0419 258364
Premier Kerin: Sascha Brooker 08 83032290 or 0418 806710
Mark Brindal: Huw Morgan 0417 834547


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action salinity and water australia

South Australian Priority Actions

Total funding $15 140 034



Rehabilitation of the Lower Murray Dairy Flats Irrigation Area - $2,180,000

The Lower Murray Irrigated Dairy Flats area is situated at the major source of Adelaide's water supply. The area is a major contributor of nutrients and salinity entering the River Murray because of the relatively old and inefficient irrigation infrastructure. This project is the first step towards a major reduction in drainage water entering the Murray.

The project will progress planning and initiate on-ground works to rehabilitate the area. It will demonstrate that salinity and nutrient outflows to the Murray can be reduced by up to 70 percent and water-use reduced by up to 50 percent.

The project will:

The work will provide the basis for developing a proposal for full rehabilitation of the scheme, which has been identified as a current and future priority in planning for the region.

Accelerated Salt Interception Investigations - $1 000 000

The project will provide detailed information needed to develop regional plans for managing salinity and improving water quality.

The first part of the project is further investigation of potential salt interception schemes (engineering construction to prevent salt entering the river) at the three main sites of Chowilla, Loxton and Lock 4 to Bookpurnong and schemes at an early development stage. The investigation will provide information on costs, contributions to regional salinity targets, likely economic and environmental impacts, long-term need, and feasibility and possible cost sharing arrangements.

The second part of the project is the development of a regional saline disposal strategy to identify the likely salt disposal needs of the region over the next 15-30 years and prepare site options and a long-term disposal strategy.

The work will build on, and be consistent with early stage Murray Darling Basin Commission investigations and strategies and use proven technologies. The information developed will be consistent and comparable with national data so that it can be used in comparative assessments and ensure best value investment decisions.

Priority actions in the Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island and the Northern Agriculture Districts - $1 547 034

The Mt Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island and the Northern Agriculture Districts areas are critical water catchments for urban areas, including Adelaide. They are also regions of diverse and high yielding farming and grazing land, and include natural wilderness and areas of high biodiversity significance. These projects will help enhance and protect critical natural resource assets and aid in strengthening the social and economic infrastructure of the region.

The projects entail a range of targeted actions to accelerate on-ground works to rehabilitate salt affected land, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity and rehabilitate areas of native vegetation so as to improve water quality.

They involve on-ground actions such as fencing, tree planting, monitoring stream flows and water quality, soil and pasture improvement, repair of stream banks, and preventive work to reduce stream bank erosion. The projects also include community education elements with an emphasis on improved land management practices by land managers as a crucial and effective way to improve water quality and mitigate against rising salinity.

Salinity Fightback in Upper South East Region - $3 000 000

This project will set up management systems to drain valuable agricultural land and maintain and enhance valuable wetlands such as the Coorong National Park and Tilley Swamp. Final approval of funding for this project is subject to completion of environmental consideration by the Commonwealth Government.

Tilley Swamp is an important wetland that is also used as a pooling site for discharged water before it drains into the Southern Lagoons of the Coorong - an internationally important RAMSAR listed wetland.

The project will:

Foundation Funding - $1 000 000

Foundation Funding is a component of funding under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. Foundation Funding will assist the establishment of Interim Natural Resource Management (INRM) Groups and support the development and refinement of Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans.

The funding is for operational, administrative and executive activities including salaries, rental/office costs, vehicle hire, INRM Group expenses, communication activities and information collection and planning.

South Australia's interim INRM Groups meet regularly and have community representation. The Groups have initiated development of INRM Plans and the funding will enable them to complete the plans based on robust science and economic and social analysis. The INRM Groups facilitate strong community engagement in the National Action Plan, community involvement in on-ground activities funded by the Plan, and a better understanding within the community of salinity and water quality issues.

Salinity Response Teams - $830,000

This project funds specialist teams to provide dryland and riverine technical expertise, to INRM Groups to assist them in the development of catchment/regional plans. Teams of specialists familiar with the specific technical issues needed to develop a Plan will be made available to work with the interim INRM Groups. This will ensure the plans are based on the best information and analysis available.

The teams will assist the Groups set regional targets, ensure plans are technically rigorous, prioritise on-ground works, establish monitoring regimes, ensure communication of relevant salinity technology and with scientific information identification and analysis, and training programs.

Salinity Mapping - $3.8 million

This project will utilise airborne electromagnetic (EM), magnetic and radiometric techniques to improve the understanding of salt movement and storage in the land and water. The salinity mapping will occur in five strategically important areas within the three National Action Plan priority regions in South Australia. These areas have been identified as strategically important for future planning processes.

Two of the areas to be mapped fall within the Lower Murray region, one in the South East and the other in the northern agriculture district. The information gained in the upper parts of the catchment (ie. mapping at Angas-Bremer) can be extended throughout the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island regions.

The project will also examine the botanical composition and plant health of native vegetation in the mapped sites. This will be referenced against salt maps and models produced by the project.

The information obtained from the mapping will be invaluable to the regional bodies in developing and refining their respective Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans. The information gained through the botanical surveys will also help to identify both current and future impacts of salinity on natural ecosystems and to identify biodiversity assets at risk from salinity.

Research and Development - $1 783 000

The project is made up of specific research proposals to gather information to guide decisions on appropriate actions to address salinity and water quality issues. Approval in-principle has been granted, subject to further discussion and agreement on broader implications regarding research and development under the National Action Plan.

It will also develop practical tools and solutions to salinity and water quality and assist in developing alternative land use systems so as to manage saline groundwater recharge in a sustainable way.

A key outcome of the project will be the development of new approaches to manage saline drainage water and identify possibilities for viable alternative industries when rehabilitation of the land is not achievable.

Commonwealth of Australia