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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Peter McGauran

19 September 2006

Stream sampling to provide salinity snapshot


A $4.6 million project to improve understanding and management of salinity in the Australian landscape was launched today.

Australian Government Ministers for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, and the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said that over the next two years, the funding would allow communities in the Murray-Darling Basin to identify and undertake stream sampling in catchment areas that were at risk from salinity.

“Our understanding of salinity and its role in Australian landscapes has changed significantly over the past five to six years,” Mr McGauran said.

“We have known for some time that salt can be a problem in the Australian landscape, but we now know that it is only likely to become a problem when it is brought close to the surface by a change in the way water moves through the soil.

“This has become increasingly evident as the drought has taken hold and work funded by the National Action Plan has become available,” Mr McGauran said.

Senator Campbell said that salinity remained a significant challenge for Australia.

“We are still coming to terms with the scale of the salinity issue and the options for dealing with it,” he said.

“One of the ways salinity can be managed more effectively is by knowing the location of salty ‘hot spots’ in the landscape. Community participation in stream sampling is an effective way of identifying these areas.

Mr McGauran said the project, managed by the Bureau of Rural Sciences, would focus on priority region catchments. Funding is provided through the Australian Government’s National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

Catchment Management Organisations to receive funding under the new project include Goulburn Broken, Mallee, North Central, and Wimmera in Victoria, Border Rivers Gwydir, Central West, Lachlan, Murray, Murrumbidgee, Namoi, and Western in New South Wales, the Murray Darling Natural Resource Management Board in South Australia, and Murray Darling Committee as a partnership with Condamine Alliance (including Maranoa-Balonne) and South West Natural Resource Management Group in Queensland.

The information gathered will be used by the Catchment Management Organisations to plan and target salinity and water management programmes within their catchments and across the Murray-Darling Basin as a whole. More information on salinity in the Australian landscape can be found at www.brs.gov.au/water

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield (Senator Campbell’s office) (02) 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902
Nancy Joseph (Minister McGauran’s office) 02 6277 7520

Commonwealth of Australia