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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
West Australian Minister for the Environment
Mr Mark McGowan, MP

13 October 2006

$4.2 Million to improve Western Australia’s water quality


The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and the West Australian Minister for the Environment, Mr Mark McGowan, today announced $4.2 million to improve water quality in the Swan-Canning Estuary, Geographe Bay and the Ramsar-listed Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands.

“In the summer months the Swan-Canning Estuary and the Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands suffer algal blooms that kill fish and put at risk Western Australia’s unique environment,” Senator Campbell said.

Mr McGowan said this damage was being caused mostly by nutrient runoff from contaminated urban and agricultural land in the catchments.

“Water quality will be improved by reducing agricultural sources of nutrients and implementing water-sensitive urban design in partnership with local government and industry,” Mr McGowan said.

Water Quality Improvement Plans will provide the roadmaps for reducing nutrient levels in these waterways using scientific models and decision-support tools prepared under this new initiative.

The Australian Government has contributed $2.7 million through the Natural Heritage Trust’s Coastal Catchments Initiative, with the remaining funding coming from the West Australian Government and Local Government Association. Together with the Peel-Harvey Estuarine Coastal Catchments Initiative, the Swan-Canning Estuary and Geographe Bay projects make up a joint $6.3 million government investment in the future of Western Australia’s coasts.

“Protecting water quality in these important areas is just a small part of the Australian Government’s commitment to protecting the waters of our coastal zone and coastal wetlands,” Senator Campbell said.

“The Australian Government’s National Programme of Action to Protect the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities draws together a host of programmes around the nation which, with the cooperation of state, territory and local government, will see outstanding improvements in preventing marine pollution nationally.

These West Australian projects, which are part of our Coastal Catchments Initiative, demonstrate the National Cooperative Approach to Integrated Coastal Zone Management, which I announced in May this year.”

Senator Campbell said the Plan for the Vasse-Wonnerup Estuary and Geographe Bay would include an ecological character description for the wetland, which was critical to meeting Australia’s international obligations under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Mr McGowan said the Swan-Canning Estuary was the lifeblood of Perth, and Geographe Bay the summer holiday destination of many West Australians. “We owe it to ourselves to preserve these gems for future generations.”

More information on the Coastal Catchments Initiative is at www.deh.gov.au/coasts/pollution/cci/index.html.

Media Contacts:
Senator Campbell: Regina Titelius 08 9421 1755 or 0419 099 324
Mr Mark McGowan: Kym Coolhaas 08 9222 9111 or 0438 920 460

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