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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Warren Truss
&
Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries, Water and Environment
Bryan Green

1 September 2003

$2.5 Million for Salinity and Water Quality in Tasmania


Regional communities in Tasmania will benefit from extensive environmental work backed with more than $2.5 million, funded dollar-for-dollar by the Federal and Tasmanian Governments under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

The funding - announced today by Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Tasmanian Minister of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Bryan Green - is for 2003/04, provided under a bilateral agreement signed by the two Governments in February 2002.

In total, the agreement will deliver up to $24 million over seven years to tackle salinity and water quality issues with potential to affect agricultural sustainability and natural resource management in significant areas of the State's north and south.

These regions - designated for priority attention under the National Action Plan (NAP) - cover most of the State's drier agricultural areas, stretching from Sorell in the south to Flinders Island in the north.

Dr Kemp said the funding would support implementation of regional projects to address a range of natural resource management issues, particularly water quality.

"By acting now, we have an opportunity to get on top of Tasmania's salinity and water quality problems as they are only now beginning to emerge, unlike in many of the mainland States where the problems are well established," Dr Kemp said.

"The projects funded in this round are just the start. The Northern and Southern Natural Resource Management Regional Committees recently called for community-generated project proposals that address water quality and salinity issues within the Tasmanian National Action Plan Region.

"The Regional Committees will consider these proposals when developing their natural resource management plan and investment strategy which will determine how the NAP funding will be spent."

Mr Truss said about three percent of Tasmania's agricultural land was affected by salinity.

"There is real potential for the problem to increase, particularly in northern Tasmania, the midlands and parts of the Derwent Valley," Mr Truss said.

"Many Tasmanian farmers are moving away from traditional agricultural enterprises such as sheep farming and diversifying into cropping, and growing a wider variety of produce ranging from vegetables to poppies.

"Cropping and associated irrigation could, without careful management and planning, exacerbate the tendency for salinity and water quality problems to occur by causing salt in underground watertables to rise to the surface. We also suspect substantial areas are yet to be affected by saline waters slowly rising as a result of past land use decisions.

"Tasmania's reputation for 'clean and green' agriculture is a valuable marketing tool and one we want to maintain."

Mr Green said the funding provided under the National Action Plan, which ties in with the State's natural resource management legislation, would assist in implementing Tasmania's new water management framework.

"Tasmania's regional committees will develop their own region-specific solutions for tackling water quality and salinity problems in their areas," Mr Green said.

"The problems they tackle will not only be agricultural. The committees will also be looking at salinity and water quality effects on biodiversity and at how salinity is impacting on urban areas and on infrastructure such as roads.

"Equipping Tasmanian communities with the skills needed to identify and assess salinity and water quality issues is a key National Action Plan goal. Increasing community understanding of why and how these problems occur is important for helping people understand their impact on the land.

"The National Action Plan provides communities with information and data for regional planning, and technical skills."

Details of the projects announced today are attached. More information about the National Action Plan is available at www.napswq.gov.au.


National Action Plan Priority Action Projects $2,581,000

Contact: Alex Schaap, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment 03 6233 6461

$480,000 for the identification of native vegetation conservation priorities in the NAP region through the TasVeg project. To develop a high quality electronically based vegetation map which can be used by the regional NRM committees and community groups when developing their NRM strategies.
Location: Across entire NAP region.

$487,000 to install an effective water quality and streamflow monitoring system in the NAP region. To provide the gauging and monitoring infrastructure for obtaining ongoing water quality and streamflow data which will assist the improvement of water quality and the security of reliable water allocations for human uses, industry and the environment.
Location: Across entire NAP region.

$50,000 for the Tasmanian NAP awareness raising campaign. For a communication strategy that will support communities in developing their integrated NRM regional strategies.
Location: Across entire NAP region.

$222,000 for water quality linkages and baseline data project. To develop linkages with key groups and the NRM committees within the NAP region to promote a water quality and streamflow monitoring system and develop a trial system for improved coordination of data collection, monitoring, storage and reporting.
Location: Across entire NAP region.

$150,000 for surface water hydrological models for the NAP region. To develop catchment surface water balance and routing models to assist the preparation of Water Management Plans and ensure allocation decisions are based on more accurate estimates of water yield.
Location: Across entire NAP region.

$225,000 to implement a NAP region river health monitoring system. To provide formal training and accreditation programs for community groups in the use of the Australian River Assessment System (AusRivAS) models to establish on-going river health monitoring and reporting systems for waterways in the NAP region.
Location: Across entire NAP region.

$82,000 to establish a process to set targets for water quality in the NAP region. To involve the community in the establishment of water quality targets using the national Water Quality Targets: a handbook and a process developed in Tasmania to establish water quality objectives. This project may also provide a framework for target setting processes for other indicators.
Location: Across entire NAP region.

$330,000 for a conservation system for freshwater ecosystem values. To identify both process and structural ecosystem features for biological, geomorphological and hydrological components of freshwater ecosystems. This will be used to develop criteria for assessing the conservation value of freshwater ecosystem features on public and private land and provide a clear decision making framework for statutory authorities where freshwater ecosystem values are involved.
Location: Across entire NAP region.

$320,000 to develop holistic environmental flow methods in the NAP region. Undertake a pilot study of environmental "high flow" requirements in the Little Swanport catchment to understand the:

Location: Little Swanport River catchment. Town: Little Swanport

$235,000 to provide a water metering infrastructure to monitor water use in the NAP region. To provide essential data to be used in developing catchment Water Management Plans and regional NRM strategies, which will assist in identifying opportunities for increased water use efficiency.
Location: Great Forester River catchment. Towns: Bridport, Scottsdale, Tulendeena, Springfield

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