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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

 

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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Mr Warren Truss
&
South Australian Minister for Environment and Conservation
Mr John Hill
&
Federal Member for Barker
Mr Patrick Secker

29 June 2004

$17.9 million pours into Murray Darling Basin


The importance of the River Murray is reflected in a $17.9 million Australian and State Government funding package that will target salinity and water quality issues in the Murray Darling Basin Region in South Australia.

The funds, from the $3 billion Natural Heritage Trust and the $1.4 billion National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, were announced today by Australian Government Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Warren Truss, State Minister for Environment and Conservation John Hill, and Federal Member for Barker, Patrick Secker.

The Ministers said the investment builds on the historic national water agreement signed last week which will make a massive contribution to placing Australian agriculture, communities, and the environment, on a sustainable footing.

Dr Kemp, while visiting Murray Bridge today, said the $17.9 million investment would help tackle major threats such as salinity, altered river flows, declining water quality, over-exploited water resources, and introduced pest species and diseases.

"Land and water salinity, water use and other water quality issues are the focus of this funding package, reflecting the importance of the River Murray not only to this region but the State in general," he said.

"Adelaide and other parts of the state are dependent in part, or wholly, on River Murray Water. Depending on seasonal factors, up to 40 per cent of Adelaide's water supply comes from the River.

"This funding will activate preventative measures to tackle salinity such as revegetation, improved management practices including water use, and education activities."

Mr Truss said another dominant issue for the region was the economic and social significance of irrigated agriculture.

"Irrigated agriculture represents about 68 per cent of the SA Murray Darling region's total production value," he said.

"This funding will support the next phase of the Salt Interception Scheme initiative which includes major engineering construction works for interception and disposal as well as activities such as investigating salt load levels and locations and monitoring loads entering the river.

"Groundwater pumping and disposal of waters will see a significant reduction in groundwater accessions - for example the Loxton and Bookpurnong schemes are expected to result in a 90 per cent reduction in accessions."

Mr Secker said the community in the Murray Darling Basin Region would also benefit through the investment's strong emphasis on community engagement.

"These funds will support the involvement of community partners including local natural resource management groups, individual landholders, industry, local government and indigenous groups," he said.

"This investment will deliver on-ground support programs such as the Lower Murray Irrigation Rehabilitation Scheme that will improve water use efficiency and provide associated environmental benefits. It will also support on-farm trials and investigations managed by landholders to increase adoption of conservation farming techniques such as minimum tillage and stubble retention".

Mr Hill added that the $17.9 million would also help manage wetlands and the floodplain environment, revegetation and remnant protection, biodiversity management; and pest control.

"The region's communities will be able to learn how to protect and re-establish habitats through revegetation activities and learn best-practice pest management strategies and actions."

Joint government regional funding announced to date for the SA Murray Darling Basin Integrated Natural Resource Management Region under the Trust and the National Action Plan exceeds $51 million.

To date, the Australian Government alone has approved $22.6 million in Trust funds and $54.4 million in NAP funds to South Australia.

More information about the Natural Heritage Trust is available at www.nht.gov.au and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality is available at www.napswq.gov.au.

A full list of investments that will be supported by the Australian Government is attached.


Investments in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin INRM Region National
Action Plan and Natural Heritage Trust 2004-2005
Key Activities Approved Funding
Design and construct salt interception schemes for salinity mitigation in priority areas - This program involves investigation, design and construction of salt interception schemes at priority sites. Activities include: construction works at Bookpurnong and Loxton and investigations and design activities at six other sites: Chowilla, Pike, Murtho, Pyap-Kingston, Salt Creek and Woolpunda –Cadell.
$6,080,000
Frameworks to ensure that water is shared equitably and used sustainably – This program will ensure that that appropriate strategic frameworks are in place and that information/data and tools are available to achieve improved water efficiency and other natural resource management outcomes. It will ensure that on-ground activities are undertaken within a strategic framework and in particular, will provide support for water users’ decision making and on-ground activities.
$1,727,000
Support communities to improve land and water management practices to reduce impact on catchment natural resources – Activities are aimed at providing support for communities to increase local understanding and ownership of local natural resource management issues in irrigated and dryland farming areas. Key activities will include the development and implementation of Land and Water Management Plans as well as support for activities to reduce dryland recharge, salinity and soil loss and enhance biodiversity.
$3,600,000
Improved river and floodplain management to improve health of the River Murray – this Program will provide a comprehensive approach to improve the health of the River Murray and its floodplain through the development of plans for managing the River Murray and its floodplain in an integrated manner.
$170,000
Targeted and coordinated wetland management to improve biodiversity This program will consolidate activity that is largely community driven and will provide technical data and information to allow wetland groups to undertake works, and manage and monitor wetlands. Priority wetlands include Ramsar wetlands of international significance.
$1,151,000
On-ground works to improve water quality by addressing diffuse and source pollution in priority areas - Activities to be funded under this Program will assist in determining the location and nature of land uses and activities that present a high risk to the water quality of the River Murray and Lower Lakes. The Program will support the construction of stormwater projects for priority areas.
$350,000
Rehabilitated irrigation infrastructure in Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Areas to improve water quality – This is an important initiative aimed at improving water quality in the River Murray and more efficient water use. Works will include metering of water supply and rehabilitated supply infrastructure to reduce water delivery losses to farms.
$650,000
Habitat protection and recovery to improve biodiversity and protect areas of conservation significance – This Program will provide a strategic and coordinated approach to habitat protection and improving biodiversity conservation. Activities address the threats of habitat modification and fragmentation, loss of species and diversity, and changes to fire regimes to terrestrial ecosystems across the region.
$1,095,000
Targeted pest animals and pest plants programs in priority areas to improve catchment biodiversity and productivity – This Program will provide a strategic landscape approach to address the threats that pest species and diseases pose to natural resource assets across the region. Accurate mapping of pest densities and locations will be undertaken, and baseline data used to accurately monitor implemented control measures.
$250,000
Integrated management of the coastal zone, estuarine environment and lakes to improve biodiversity and protect areas of conservation and cultural significance – This Program will support Australia’s international obligation to ensure the wise use and maintenance of the ecological character of wetlands of international importance under the implementation of the Ramsar Plan for the Coorong and Lower Lakes.
$305,000
Informed and active community and industry involvement and effective indigenous partnerships in natural resource management – Supports the long-term adoption and maintenance of actions to improve natural resource management. It will target individuals and regional communities by developing and implementing programs tailored to meet specific needs of community sectors.
$1,262,000
Appropriate systems for monitoring and reporting in place to support integrated natural resource management – This Program will provide for the development and implementation of appropriate monitoring, evaluation and reporting systems that will allow progress to be monitored in addressing the region’s natural resource management issues.
$550,000
SA Murray-Darling Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) Group support – Will provide administrative support for the INRM Group to ensure the effective implementation, management, monitoring and reporting of the investment package.
$700,000
NAP AND NHT TOTAL
$17,890,000
Commonwealth of Australia