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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
Australian Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation
Senator the Hon Eric Abetz

22 August 2006

Applications closing for Community Water Grants

Applications for Round Two of the popular Community Water Grants will close this Friday (25 August).

The Australian Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz, today reminded community groups about the deadline for the popular programme and urged groups to submit their applications by Friday.

“Australian community groups are doing great things to save water through the Community Water Grants programme – schools, Indigenous Australian and charitable and sporting groups are all making a contribution,” Senator Campbell said.

“By undertaking practical, on-the-ground projects, Australian communities are addressing wise water use and improvements to water health and quality in their own backyards and neighbourhoods,” Senator Abetz said.

Grants worth up to $50,000 will be available for water saving, recycling and treatment projects that demonstrate community involvement and a clear public benefit.

The $200 million Community Water Grants programme is the community component of the Australian Government Water Fund.

Round One of the programme was an outstanding success, with $61 million awarded to 1,750 water saving projects expected to save around 18 billion litres of water a year – enough to fill 18,000 community swimming pools.

Examples of some of the great projects approved in Round One are:

The Ministers asked the community to think about what they can do to build on the success of Round One of the Community Water Grants programme and help meet Australia’s water challenge.

Examples from Round One and demonstration projects for each State and Territory is attached. A full list of Round One projects is available at

Application forms and guidelines are available from or by calling 1800 780 730.

Media contacts:
Rob Broadfield (Senator Campbell’s office) 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902
Brad Stansfield (Senator Abetz’s office) 02 6277 7600 or 0419 884 666

Community Water Grants

Round One and Demonstration Projects

New South Wales

Repairing the irrigation system at an organic community farm
Dapto Community Farm, Dapto, NSW, $39,734.55 (ex GST)

The Dapto Community Farm uses water from Mullet Creek as well as town water to grow organic vegetables for Youth and Family Services, the Youth Crisis Centre and the Warrawong community kitchen. Continuous puddles of water around the farm alerted the community that the irrigation pipes were leaking and wasting a large amount of water.

Landcare Illawarra funded a facilitated planning session and a variety of stakeholders were invited to attend. The group consulted an irrigation specialist and their Aboriginal Natural Resource Officer.

The resulting project will install two water tanks on the farm, increasing the farm’s self-sufficiency and reducing its need for town water. It will also replace the current pump with a variable flow pump to prevent pressure build up and reduce future cracks. Cracked pipes will also be replaced.

Water meters will be installed to give an accurate water use figure so each stage of improvements can be measured. The project will occur in stages to allow for monitoring and data collection, which will form the basis of educational and promotional material for the benefit of farm members, visitors, students and the broader community.

This project will save 5,000,000 litres of water per year.

Saving the bore baths
Walgett Shire Council, Walgett, NSW, $45,454.55 (ex GST)

The Burren Bore Baths is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the Walgett region. Fresh bore water is constantly fed into the baths and water is continually being discharged at the same rate. The Burren Bore Trust advised the Walgett Shire Council that unless they could develop a way for the baths to stay open without the significant waste of water, they would cap the bore, meaning the baths would have to close.

As soon as the word spread that the bore that feeds the baths might be capped, letters of support for the facility started pouring in from all over south-eastern Australia.

The council held several public meetings to discuss the options for keeping the baths open. They engaged a groundwater expert to research the feasibility of using heat exchange technology to keep the spa at an appropriate temperature. They also looked into reinjecting treated wastewater from the heat exchanger back into the Great Artesian Basin.

A solution was determined: a cap and pipe system will be built to reduce the amount of water being lost through the bore. The wastewater from the heat exchanger will also be reused in the adjoining stock and domestic reticulation scheme.

This project will save 180,000,000 litres of water each year.

Western Australia

A weather station to control irrigation
City of Bunbury, Bunbury, WA, $45,287.27 (ex GST)

The City of Bunbury currently uses 250,000 mega litres of water per year irrigating five major parks and ovals – a total area of 30 hectares.

In an attempt to reduce water use, the council researched successful weather station projects and discovered that water savings of 20 to 30 per cent were both achievable and reasonable. The new weather station will measure temperature, humidity, solar radiation, evaporation and rainfall and automatically send these measurements to the central control irrigation system.

The irrigation system will adjust watering times and settings based on these factors. As well as promoting water wise irrigation to the community, this project will save 50,000,000 litres of water per year.

Precipitation and Sumpwater Infiltration Swale with Borewater Recycled onto School Oval
Beachlands Primary School, WA, $41,322.32 (ex GST)

This project will allow rainfall, fog and dew to infiltrate the porous pavers, the swale and the garden-beds to recharge the watertable with freshwater. The freshwater will be recycled via the school's ten bores and used to irrigate the school oval. In addition, seven of the high water using trees will be removed and replaced with native species.


Improving the flow at Nine Mile Creek
Stanley Spring Ditch and Wetlands Reserve Committee, Stanley, Vic, $7,221.82 (ex GST)

Stanley is a small town surrounded by state forest and pine plantations. The channel running through the middle of town to Nine Mile Creek has been slice mined for gold and after 20 years of neglect, is infested with weeds. The area was an eyesore and a fire hazard.

The water running through the channel is promoting weed growth and making it difficult to control weeds. In crucial summer periods, water flowing into the current channel does not reach the creek.

This project will construct a diversion channel to an existing waterway, install culverts and a channel stop and revegetate the area around the new channel. This will increase the volume of water reaching the main creek and allow weed control in the existing channel, decreasing the fire hazard in the area.

A retention basin, pollutant trap and wetlands $41,214.55 (ex GST)
Ballarat Christian School, Ballarat, Vic

Ballarat Christian School developed this project to address the issue of a dangerous drain outlet on school property. After discussions with a drainage engineer, local water authorities and environmental groups, the project grew to also offer long-term water savings.

There is a large volume of run-off from the school that flows, via this drain, into the Yarrowee River. To relieve pressure on town water resources, this project will harvest run-off to supplement the school’s water supply.

A gross pollutant trap will be installed in the mouth of the drain outlet to collect and remove rubbish before it enters the river. Reed beds will be planted to filter the water. This will help stop the build up of silt and improve the quality of water entering the river.

The local church community is supporting the project through working bees. This project will rehabilitate 0.5 hectares of land and waterways.

South Australia

Recycling piggery effluent
Yates Piggery, Kimba, SA, $10,443.25 (ex GST)

Water is a major issue on the Eyre Peninsula. Groundwater, combined with water from the Tod River Reservoir, is the main source of the region’s reticulated water.

Yates Piggery at Kimba uses 10,000 to 14,000 litres of water each day to flush pig waste into existing ponds. Over 6,000,000 litres of water is discharged to the environment each year.

The piggery discovered that it is possible to recycle their wastewater without safety concerns for either pigs or humans. Yates Piggery consulted health experts and received support from the Eyre Regional Development Board. They also consulted a vet who strongly supported the project.

This project will recycle piggery wastewater several times rather than just once, as is currently the case. The proposed system will divert wastewater from the pig shed drains through a series of ponds. As water moves through the ponds it is progressively filtered and pumped through the piggery to flush out pig waste again.

The local farm improvement group will promote this recycling strategy as a model for other farmers in the Eyre Peninsula area. The result will be a saving of 4,000,000 litres of water each year and a reduction in wastewater discharged into surface and underground water systems.

Harvesting stormwater for toilet flushing
Caritas College School Board, SA, $45,454.55 (ex GST)

When Caritas College School Board heard about Community Water Grants they were eager to tap into a long-term water solution for the school. They attended community meetings run by the Department of Primary Industries to discuss possible options.

The school engaged a consultant to do a feasibility audit and study of the site. The consultant recommended water will be diverted through a collection sump and a new pipeline to an existing (currently unused) underground concrete tank. A new treatment unit will be installed and a pump will divert water to the toilet blocks for flushing.

The school reviewed the Regional Water Strategic Plan to make sure their project was in line with larger plans.

A new unit of work will be written and incorporated into the school curriculum. This project will be transferable to other schools of similar size. A fact sheet will be developed for distribution by the Catholic Education Office and the project will be actively promoted through the school newsletter.
An analysis of annual rainfall data and the school surface area shows the project will harvest 6,000,000 litres of water each year. This will reduce total water used for toilet flushing at the school by 25 per cent.


Laser lab water-cooling refurbishment
Griffith University, Brisbane, Qld, $45,390.91 (ex GST)

Griffith University thought carefully about the most cost effective way of using a Community Water Grant to achieve a substantial reduction in their water use.

The university currently uses mains water to cool lasers and other science equipment in their two laboratories. The water is only used once before it is discharged at a rate of 1.5 litres per second.

This project will upgrade an existing but defunct recirculating system. This upgrade will mean the university can reuse water to cool the lasers. Other science equipment that is connected to the existing loop, including 15 diffusion pumps and a vacuum plant, will also be supplied with the reused water.

This project has strong support throughout the university community – lecturers, technicians, management and maintenance staff are all on board. Lecturers and technicians will monitor the project and the university’s mechanical engineer will maintain it.

As well as being promoted in the university and wider community, the recirculation system will be used as a working model for environmental engineering students.

This project will save 40,000,000 litres of water per year.

Newmarket Wiser Water Project
Newmarket State School, QLD, $41,322.32 (ex GST)

This project will reduce water consumption throughout the school by installing 18 dual flush toilets, 2 waterless urinals, and other water saving fittings; by using rainwater collected in 5 23,000L tanks to supplement the toilet water supply; and reducing the quantity of water used in the garden by installing irrigation controllers with rainfall and soil moisture sensors. The expected annual water savings will be more than 150,000 L.


Treating stormwater at Parson’s Bay $12,207.82 (ex GST)
Friends of Judd Park, Nubeena, Tasmania

After a period of relatively dry winters, the south coast of Tasmania received high rainfall last year, which really put Nubeena’s existing stormwater system to the test. The rainfall flushed accumulated sediments, rubbish and pollutants into Parson’s Bay, where many locals observed silt in the water. They also noticed that wild oysters in the bay were dying.

The timely release of a draft manual on water-sensitive urban design, which demonstrated how towns and cities were changing kerb and guttering systems to vegetated swales, inspired the Friends of Judd Park to trial an alternative stormwater treatment method.

Through their local council, Friends of Judd Park consulted with a stormwater officer. A combination of a bio-retention basin and a vegetated swale was recommended by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water and in the stormwater management procedures for southern Tasmania.

The Aboriginal Heritage section of the Tasman Council advised that an Aboriginal Heritage assessment of the area would be needed before on-ground works could begin.

Working bees are open to the public and the project includes an education component to teach the community how they can reduce pollutants and rubbish entering the stormwater. The groups will give presentations at the local school, the youth house and other interested groups, encouraging them to be involved in the project. Newsletters, fliers and posters will also be produced.

Using a stormwater-modelling tool, the group was able to simulate their stormwater system and estimate the reductions in phosphorus, nitrogen and suspended solids that could be achieved using the simple treatment train.

Woodbridge Water Conservation Project
Woodbridge District High School, TAS, $32,554.21 (ex GST)

This project will involve conducting a water audit and implementing a water conservation plan for the school. This include installation of 10 waterless urinals, 9 water saving toilets, and water saving taps; establishment of water friendly demonstration gardens; creation of eco-carpark with biofilters; and monitoring of water quality at Mason's Creek. The implementation of these projects are expected to save 1.5 million litres of water per annum.

Northern Territory

Important water places
Nyirripi Community Council, Nyirripi, NT, $42,022.73 (ex GST)

Camel populations in the Northern Territory have a negative impact on the quality of water and the biodiversity associated with wetlands by emptying and fouling waterholes and trampling the surrounding vegetation. Being an arid environment, the Walpiri and Kartangarrurru Kurintji Homelands in the Northern Territory rely on water holes as an important source of water.

The NT Parks and Wildlife Service has indicated that these sites should be protected. This project will protect 16 important water places on Walpiri homelands near the Nyirripi Community. Innovative techniques for excluding camels from waterholes will include welded spider-like structures over small waterholes. Strong fence-like barriers will be constructed around larger wetlands.

Tangentyere Landcare will introduce an education program about the importance of controlling feral camels. Elders will take school children around each site to share cultural stories and talk about the importance of the protection of the sites.

Monitoring should show gradual improvements in the quality of water at these sites. Greening Australia will assist the community to set up an annual monitoring programme which will include photo-points, water testing and macro-invertebrate counts.

Oval Irrigation with Non-Potable Mine Pit Water at Pine Creek School, Northern Territory
Pine Creek School Council, NT, $40,180.62 (ex GST)

This project will save approximately 16,900,000 litres of water per year by irrigating the school oval with an alternative non-potable water source (mine pit water).

Commonwealth of Australia