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Senator the Hon. Penny Wong
Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water

The Hon Dr Mike Kelly AM MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Water

Tim Holding
Victorian Minister for Water

Funding for Living Murray Environmental works

Joint media release
3 September 2009

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The internationally recognised Hattah Lakes near Mildura will receive more than $20 million in new environmental works to help bring water to areas of Redgum, Black box and Lignum that are struggling under the current drought.

Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, announced the funding today during a visit to the Hattah Lakes with Parliamentary Secretary for Water, Dr Mike Kelly.

"Subject to environmental, planning and other approvals, the proposed works will include a permanent pumping station, levees and regulators to manage flows within the lakes," Senator Wong said.

"The works will enable the watering of 6,000 hectares of lakes, Redgum, Black box and Lignum communities.

"In addition to these funds for Hattah Lakes, approvals for a $6.1 million package of works to maximise the benefits of environmental watering at nearby Mulcra Island are nearing completion and construction is expected to commence this year.

"These works at Mulcra Island will enable 800 hectares of floodplain to be inundated and an increase in flows in 20 kilometres of associated creeks and anabranches which are important habitat for waterbirds, fish, frogs and turtles."

Victorian Water Minister Tim Holding said these major environmental works programs were a sign of the times.

"With prolonged drought and the climate change outlook, we have to find ways to maximise the use of the water we do have," Mr Holding said.

"The Victorian Government is undertaking record investment in water recovery and works programs, to deliver the best outcomes for the environment and communities."

Funding will be provided through the $275 million works program of The Living Murray initiative, two-thirds of which is funded by the Australian Government and the rest from the New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

Senator Wong's tour of the lakes enabled her to see firsthand the benefits of environmental watering, provided in part by the Rudd Government's water buyback program.

"As we work to tackle the effects of drought and climate change, it is encouraging to be here to see firsthand the transformation we have collectively brought to this nationally significant wetland."

Dr Kelly said the environmental works and watering were helping to deliver on one of the priorities of the Rudd Government's $12.9 billion Water for the Future initiative: supporting healthy rivers.

"Another priority of Water for the Future is securing a strong future for Murray-Darling Basin irrigators, industries and communities through investing in irrigation infrastructure and local water-saving initiatives."

Environmental water for the Hattah Lakes was contributed by the Rudd Government, the Victorian Government, The Living Murray initiative and by a private donation. Water delivery to the site is managed by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority in conjunction with Parks Victoria and local community groups who assist in monitoring environmental outcomes at the site.

Commonwealth of Australia