Report showcases environmental watering benefits
The Commonwealth Environmental Water 2009-10 Outcomes Report is now available.
The report outlines the early results of 2009-10 environmental watering actions and shows that real progress is being made in key areas of the Murray-Darling Basin, including Hattah Lakes, Chowilla Floodplain and Yanga National Park.
Although the full impact of environmental watering will take some years to emerge, early monitoring indicates environmental water has produced many benefits such as better health in river red gums, and improved habitat for frogs, fish and birds.
Hattah Lakes, Vic before environmental watering 2009
Photo: M. Mohell & DSEWPaC
“The Australian Government is working to restore the health of the rivers, wetlands and floodplains in the Murray-Darling Basin. This report showcases the benefits of water recovery for the environment. ”
Ian Robinson, Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
Hattah Lakes, Vic after environmental watering 2009
Photo: M. Mohell & DSEWPaC
Lowbidgee Floodplain springs life
The Lowbidgee Floodplain has experienced one of the biggest bird breeding events seen in recent history. The combination of recent high rainfall and environmental water delivered to sustain the wetlands during the drought are providing ideal habitat for thousands of nesting cormorants, egrets, ibis, herons, swans and ducks.
At Twin Bridges in Yanga National Park, which is situated alongside the Murrumbidgee River east of Balranald in south western New South Wales, overbank flows have provided ideal habitat for over 800 nesting great and intermediate egrets.
Looking at the floodplain now it's hard to comprehend just how dry it was a few years back.
According to James Maguire, Senior Wetlands and Rivers Conservation Officer at the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, this positive response was helped by environmental watering at Yanga National Park and North Redbank during 2009-10.
“The environmental watering of Yanga National Park helped support the first significant colonial bird breeding event in the Lowbidgee since 2005 and primed the wetland system for the recent flooding flows,” Mr Maguire said.
“The wetland system hasn't looked this good in years.”
During the drought, Balranald area farmers welcomed the delivery of environmental water to the parched wetland system. In autumn 2010, environmental water was delivered to private wetlands and river red gum forests of the North Redbank system, along with the landholders' own share of a surplus flow event.
Rachael Williams, who along with her husband farms sheep in the North Redbank area, said the environmental watering in March 2010 sparked a bird breeding event on her 1700 acre riverbank property.
“Prior to the environmental water we hadn't seen the birds, such as swans, ducks, ibis and egrets, complete a breeding cycle in so long,” Ms Williams said.
Ms Williams also said that the frog population exploded. Frogs and tadpoles are an important food source for all egrets breeding in the North Redbank wetlands.
“The whole area was flourishing, and is continuing to flourish now with all the over-bank flows,” Ms Williams said.
The Williams family also decided to keep stock away from the environmental watering area so the ecosystem benefits could be maximised.
“Seeing the amount of good feed down there we were tempted to put stock on, but we didn't,” Ms Williams said.
The North Redbank site was a priority for both state and federal environmental water because of the importance of the area as a waterbird breeding and feeding habitat.
Ms Williams said what really impressed her about the environmental water was the impact that state and federal environmental water can have when used together.
“The people managing the water were realistic in terms of what it would do and understood and respected our needs as land owners,” Ms Williams said. “The past 12 months of watering is proof that departments working with landholders can create positive outcomes for all”.
Springback Swamp Lowbidgee Floodplain, NSW following environmental watering
Photo: J. Maguire, NSW DECCW
New Chair for Murray-Darling Basin Authority
Craig Knowles is the newly appointed Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Since his appointment in February, Mr Knowles has held meetings across the Basin and reviewed feedback on the Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan.
Mr Knowles has ten years experience as a NSW state government minister, including direct experience in the water portfolio and other natural resource issues. He is widely credited, along with then Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, as a key driver of the National Water Initiative.
Boosting Australian water and agricultural research in the Murray-Darling Basin
The National Water Commission has provided $1.8 million towards the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) annual survey of irrigation farms. The funding will help improve understanding of structural adjustment issues and the impact of water reform on communities.
ABARES has conducted an annual survey of 900 irrigation farms in the Murray-Darling Basin since 2006-07, covering irrigation water use, water trading activities, use of irrigation technologies, land values and areas, crop and livestock production, capital flows, and farm costs and receipts.
NWC's funding will help collect an additional two years of survey data and bring the data set up-to-date to the end of 2011. ABARES will also analyse the data with a focus on water use efficiency, water trading and adjustment.
Current tenders and funding rounds
On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program
Applications close: Thursday 31 March 2011
Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program in New South Wales
Applications close: Friday 22 July 2011
Irrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance
Applications close: 29 October 2012 (unless all available funds are committed earlier)
National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative Rebates for households to install rainwater
tanks or greywater systems
Applications close: 31 March 2014
Modernising water metering to secure water supplies
Installing a water meter
Photo: Water Metering Tasmania
More than 8.5 billion litres of drinking water will be saved thanks to two new projects set to improve water supply security in Tasmania and southern Queensland.
The Australian Government is providing $10 million in funding for the Water Metering Tasmania project, which is expected to save more than 8 billion litres of Tasmanian drinking water each year.
The project involves installing water meters to unmetered properties and upgrading meters that do not meet required standards.
The water meters will reduce water losses by improving detection and repairing leaks, in household and supply systems. It will enable consumers to make informed choices to better manage their water usage.
The project, to be rolled out by Tasmania's three water corporations, to about 100,000 properties shows a commitment towards a more efficient, equitable and sustainable use of water resources in Tasmania. The roll out is also a means of achieving fairer pricing for all customers.
Tasmanian communities will also reap rewards from the project. Southern Water Coorporation predicts the project should result in a net economic benefit to the community of $7.6 million over 15 years.
Residents of Maryborough in southern Queensland are also set to benefit from more than $5.7 million in Australian Government funding to help improve the security of their water supplies.
A cross section of a 30 year old pipe showing a buildup of iron (top) and manganese (bottom). This is a common issue for Australian water pipes that run water under low pressure and remain uncleaned
Photo: Wide Bay Water Corporation
The funding was awarded to the Wide Bay Water Corporation to deliver their Proud Mary: Modernising Maryborough's Water Systems project.
Wide Bay Water will achieve potable water savings of 539 million litres a year through water infrastructure improvements, including installing smart metering systems, replacing mains, setting up district metering and pressure management.
The smart meters will be installed at more than 9000 properties in Maryborough. They will be read by using a receiver that picks up water usage information from the smart meter.
Work on the project has commenced and is scheduled for completion by June 2012.
Funding for these two projects has been provided by the Australian Government's National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns program, which supports communities with fewer than 50,000 people by funding practical projects that save water and reduce water loss.
Discovering wetlands in Australia
World Wetlands Day 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. In celebration of the anniversary, the Australian Government has produced a primary school classroom kit that will be available throughout 2011. The kit includes a unit plan, fact sheets, a DVD, origami and subject book stickers.
The classroom kit materials are available online at www.environment.gov.au/water/topics/wetlands/worldwetlands-day/index.html To request a hard copy of the classroom kit, please call 1800 218 478 or email email@example.com
Wetlands-themed origami — just one of the fun activities included in the Discovering wetlands in Australia classroom kit
Water recycling delivers huge water savings
A water recycling project in West Werribee will see the city become one of the most water conscious areas in Victoria, as City West Water rolls out an Aquifer Storage and Recovery scheme as part of its West Werribee Dual Supply project.
The scheme will draw recycled water from Melbourne Water's Western Treatment Plant, further process it to reduce salt, and inject it into an underground aquifer for storage.
The treated recycled water will then be extracted and piped to customers for use in gardens, toilet flushing and public open spaces such as the Werribee Racecourse.
The West Werribee Dual Water Supply project aims to deliver about 3.1 billion litres of treated recycled water to new homes in the surrounding area. About 9,200 homes have already been approved for construction and the project will have the capacity to supply an estimated 19,200 homes expected to be constructed by 2035.
The Australian Government has provided funding of $11.4 million to the project through the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan.
Meanwhile, thousands of kilometres away in Perth, a pioneering Groundwater Replenishment Trial project has been launched. The Australian Government contributed funding of $19.4 million to the trial through the Water Smart Australia program. The trial will test the impact of groundwater replenishment on aquifer water quality and the feasibility of building a full scale scheme.
Recharging groundwater with advanced highly treated recycled water has the potential to reduce the pressure on drinking water supplies in many cities across Australia.
Have your say on the National Water Market website
We are conducting a survey of the National Water Market website at www.nationalwatermarket.gov.au
Your responses and suggestions will inform improvements to the site.
Investing in Australia's desalination industry
The National Centre of Excellence in Desalination announced nearly $3 million in funding for a second round of research projects that investigate ways to advance desalination technology.
The 12 projects are an important investment in securing future water supplies for all Australians and build on the 11 research projects funded under the first round.
Investing in research and development is crucial to a sustainable desalination industry and will see Australia at the cutting edge of desalination technology across the globe.
While most Australians would be familiar with the large scale desalination plants in capital cities, the centre is investigating how to use this technology in small, remote communities.
One of the projects, led by Professor Trevor Pryor at Murdoch University, will develop a costeffective solar and waste energy system to power groundwater desalination. It will focus on reliability to provide the Tjuntjunjarra Indigenous community in Western Australia with a secure and safer supply of drinking water.
The current groundwater supply in Tjuntjunjarra – located 800 kilometres northeast of Kalgoorlie – contains nitrates that exceed the recommended level for infants and pregnant women.
By pulling together project partners from industry, government, community service providers, and research institutions this innovative project will take cutting edge technology used worldwide to address the needs of this growing remote community.
Desalination is an important component of securing water supplies in Australia–it can provide water all year round, regardless of rainfall. However, there is a continued need to improve the process, particularly in energy efficiency.
The 12 projects include research into improved membrane performance; desalination for remote areas; forward osmosis for simultaneous production of water and fertilizer; and solar powered desalination for rural communities.
The projects also promote collaboration between global experts in desalination technology, with project partners from Korea, Singapore, the United States and France.
The Australian Government has committed $20 million in funding over five years to the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination, through the Water for the Future initiative.
Water information line receives 10,000th call
The department's water information line received its 10,000th call in early March.
The free telephone service responds to queries about topics as wide ranging as water purchasing, irrigation modernisation, water saving initiatives, and rebates for rainwater tanks and greywater systems.
The water information line gives members of the public the most up-to-date information available and allows people to voice their concerns about water issues.
You can contact the water information line on 1800 218 478.
India and Australia share water knowledge
Sunset at Ropar irrigation headworks, Punjab 2010
Photo: J.Morschel & DSEWPaC
Australia and India are sharing water management and policy expertise following an Australian delegation visit to New Delhi in November 2010.
Senior officers from DSEWPaC, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology attended the inaugural meeting of the Indian-Australian Joint Working Group on Water Resource Management. The group oversees activities under the 2009 memorandum of understanding between the two countries on water matters.
Australian delegates shared Australia's water experiences with their Indian counterparts from the Ministry of Water Resources, Central Water Commission and other agencies.
Australian delegate members also participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Energy and Resources Institute, an independent Indian research and policy group that focuses on sustainable development issues.
Orange City Pipeline project gets go-ahead
Photo: M. McAulay & DSEWPaC
The Australian and New South Wales governments have signed off on a pipeline project to provide Orange with a secure water supply by connecting the city's existing water infrastructure to a more reliable water supply from the Macquarie River.
The pipeline, expected to be completed by December 2012, will allow Orange City Council to transfer up to 12 megalitres of water a day from the Macquarie River to Suma Park Dam as an additional water supply source.
Providing Orange with a secure and reliable water supply means recent population growth and prosperity in the region can continue with the right infrastructure in place.
Funding for the pipeline includes a $20 million investment from the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative, an $18 million commitment from the NSW Government, and $9 million from the Orange City Council.
Farewell to James Horne
Dr James Horne
The department sadly bid adieu to Dr James Horne who recently retired as Deputy Secretary of the Water Group.
Dr Horne joined the department in early 2007 and made an enormous contribution to water reform in Australia. His leadership of initiatives to strengthen water markets, improve water efficiency on farms and in cities and towns, and delivering water savings for the environment have been huge steps towards a more sustainable future for all water users.
Dr Horne also played a pivotal role in the Government's actions to address the declining health of the Murray-Darling Basin and in preparing Basin communities for a future with less water.
For the past 19 years, Dr Horne held senior executive positions in the public sector, including Chief Executive of the South Australian Department of Transport, Energy and Infrastructure and as First Assistant Secretary of the Industry, Infrastructure and Environment Division of the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Dr Horne has been a valuable member of the department's executive team and his knowledge, intellect and experience will be greatly missed by all who have received his advice during his 27 year public service career. We wish him all the very best for his retirement and future endeavours.
New Water Group Deputy Secretary
David Parker is the newly appointed Deputy Secretary of the Water Group following James Horne's retirement.
Mr Parker is a highly experienced Deputy Secretary, most recently leading the Revenue Group in Treasury. He has particular expertise in microeconomic policy reforms.
Mr Parker joined the Treasury in 1984 and has since worked on financial sector liberalisation, tax reform, macroeconomic forecasting and policy, competition policy, energy policy and international economic issues.
Managed aquifer recharge
A new report by the National Water Commission says one of the contemporary challenges for the urban water sector is meeting community and political expectations with a secure, cost-effective and fit-for-purpose water supply.
Undertaken by the CSIRO, the report looks at the important role managed aquifer recharge plays in urban water systems, the separation of water rights, and recommendations from workshops held with targeted agencies and water industry representatives.
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