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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Western Australian Minister for the Environment
Dr Judy Edwards
&
Member for Canning
Don Randall MP

1 October 2003

Over $2.1 Million for Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary


Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Western Australian Minister for the Environment, Judy Edwards, today announced $2.1 million to improve water quality in the Peel Harvey system - one of the state's important waterways and an internationally recognised Ramsar listed wetland.

The $2.1 million - funded by the Federal and Western Australian Governments - will fund the development of a major Water Quality Improvement Plan and a series of interim projects now underway in the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary.

"Today's funding commitment includes $1.7 million from the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust Coastal Catchments Initiative. The Coastal Catchments Initiative delivers on the Government's commitment to reduce the discharge of pollutants to key coastal and urban water quality hotspots and the Peel Harvey system has been recognised as one of these," Dr Kemp said.

"The Peel-Harvey System is an internationally recognised Ramsar listed wetland which is home to abundant marine wildlife and is a popular base for migratory waterbirds from South-East Asia such as the Red-necked Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, the Ruddy Turnstone and the Curlew Sand Piper.

"However, this important waterway continues to be threatened by poor water quality, making it an obvious priority for Commonwealth investment under the Natural Heritage Trust."

Studies show catchment based agriculture and a rapidly expanding urban front are contributing to water quality problems in the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary. High phosphorus loads from farming and urban areas to the estuary have triggered algal blooms in the past leading to fish and benthic organism deaths.

"Water quality issues have led to a decline in food species for marine wildlife living in the Peel Harvey system such as molluscs, crustacea and other bottom dwelling (benthic) organisms killed by depleted oxygen levels," Dr Kemp said.

"Rotting algae has also resulted in an unpleasant odour for residents in some up-market canal estates.

"The Water Quality Improvement Plan sets the scene for action over the medium to long term to improve the condition of this estuarine/marine system thereby protecting wildlife habitat."

Minister Edwards said WA's independent Environmental Protection Authority, which oversaw the implementation of interim projects, will also oversee implementation of the Water Quality Improvement Plan.

"The Water Quality Improvement Plan will outline a range of measures to reduce pollution in the Peel Harvey system. These will include identifying and implementing agricultural best management practices, establishing nutrient trading programs, pursuing economic incentives and supporting institutional reform and capacity building to sustain outcomes into the long term," Dr Edwards said.

"The Plan will be completed for accreditation later next year. In the meantime, a series of interim projects underway since April this year are helping to address some of the more urgent land use and water quality issues, such as minimising the discharge of nutrient-contaminated runoff and establishing a water quality monitoring regime. This work will continue through to the time the plan is fully implemented." (see list of projects attached).

Dr Edwards said development of the Water Quality Improvement Plan will involve all stakeholders and communities in the catchment. This includes land conservation and environment groups, local councils, landholders, and the relevant natural resource management body.

Once accredited by the Commonwealth, the Plan will be the basis to a long-term investment strategy.

"The water quality plan and projects is an excellent opportunity to build on previous efforts to protect this wetland system," local Federal Member for Canning, Don Randall, said.

"I look forward to a Plan that gives governments and the community certainty that water quality targets can be achieved and maintained and which substantiates the most cost-effective measures to achieve and maintain that outcome."

For further details on the Coastal Catchments Initiative, visit: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/pollution/cci/index.html

Coastal Catchment Initiative Projects for Peel Harvey WA
Project Title Project Description Aust. Govt
funds
WA Contacts
Water Quality Improvement Plan for the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary   $160,000 James Treloar
(08) 9222 7145
Establishment of a statutory decision-support system
for water quality improvement and protection - Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary.
Computer model that works out:
  • which pollutants are causing problems
  • the extent of the problems
  • the effectiveness of proposed solutions
$100,000 James Treloar
(08) 9222 7145
A Review of Environmental Protection Regulations to protect the Peel-Harvey System Audit of state and local laws and regs controlling pollution so that they can be changed to fix the problems as required. $100,000 Colin Scrimshaw
(08) 9535 4311
Targeted assistance to intensive agricultural activities in the Peel-Harvey Coastal Plain Catchment Project funding for pollution source audits and controls on intensive farms (eg. dairy farms) for the purposes of licensing pollution discharges. $120,000 Rob Summers
(08) 9733 7777
Stock exclusion from waterways in the Peel-Harvey coastal plain catchment Fencing to exclude grazing in and adjacent to sensitive creeks and rivers in the catchment $150,000 Bob Pond
(08) 9535 3411
A Water Quality Monitoring Program and Infrastructure for the Peel-Harvey Catchment Measuring water quality to establish:
  • the accuracy of computer models
  • the effects of pollution on the catchment
  • the effectiveness of any pollution controls
$400,000 Tom Rose
(08) 9278 0413
Identification, evaluation and implementation of agricultural Best Management Practices in the coastal catchment of the Peel-Harvey Estuary Improved farming methods to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution $340,000 Rob Summers
(08) 9733 7777
A Strategy for Water Sensitive Design on the coastal plain catchment of the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary. Development and implementation for stormwater and runoff management that:
  • reduces pollution
  • encourages stormwater reuse
  • reduces flooding
$350,000 Christine Steer
(08) 9535 0000
Totals $1 720 000

Commonwealth of Australia