The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Premier Jay Weatherill
Premier of South Australia
The Hon Paul Caica
South Australian Minister for Sustainability, Environment & Conservation and Water and the River Murray
New floodplain projects to bring boost for river red gums and Murray Cod
26 November 2012
The Murray's mighty river red gums and native fish populations will be rejuvenated under a major new environmental infrastructure program.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke today announced up to $155 million in funding for major projects to restore the health of the wetlands at Pike and Katarapko in the Riverland.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the State Government had advocated for Federal Government funding to help replenish the Riverland floodplains.
"Today I welcome the commitment from the Commonwealth of up to $155 million for environmental infrastructure in the Riverland," Mr Weatherill said.
"The Basin Plan now allows for 450 gigalitres more than initially proposed to be recovered for the environment - with enormous benefit for the river.
"We can make that extra water go further with environmental works that direct water onto floodplains at crucial stages in the breeding and growth cycles of species like the Murray Cod and river redgums.
"Plants and animals that rely on the Murray have suffered too long from over-allocation and drought - now we can give them a boost and help return them to their former glory."
Under the program, regulators will be installed at the priority South Australian Murray wetland sites at the Pike and Katarapko floodplains near Berri.
Mr Burke said restoring more natural cycles of inundation at the Pike and Katarapko floodplains would help improve the health and resilience of the floodplain ecosystems, which include nationally significant species, such as the Regent Parrot and Southern Bell Frog.
"These species rely on a healthy ecosystem to survive. The wetlands also act as a natural filtration system for parts of the river, improving water quality downstream," he said.
"These regulators mean that water can be held on the floodplain for longer. Even though it is a regulator, it will actually allow the flood plain to experience something much closer to natural conditions.
"That means healthier wetlands, more natural conditions on the floodplain and cleaner water in the river."
River Murray Minister Paul Caica said the floodplains were areas of high conservation value and over decades their environmental condition had declined significantly.
"This will enable us to recreate some of the flooding that is needed for fish to breed and trees and plants to grow.
"It is innovative water use efficiency projects like this that will help us achieve the outcomes we are seeking under the Basin Plan.
The Pike Floodplain has a watercourse system of about 6700 hectares and includes redgum and black box habitats.
The new program will include: the upgrade, installation and replacement of banks and regulating structures on the backwaters of the system, completion of the Pike Salt Interception Scheme and management of floodplain groundwater.
Katfish Reach - or the Katarapko-Eckert Creek Floodplains - is a complex mosaic of habitats with high ecological values Water regulating infrastructure will be installed, the nearby Woolpunda Salt Interception Scheme will be extended to intercept salt from the Banrock Station/Overland Corner region and other measures will be undertaken to manage the floodplain.
The project's funding, subject to due diligence assessment, includes $100 million in new funding from 2016-17 and $55 million from South Australia's existing funding commitment from the Commonwealth for State Priority Projects.
Detailed planning and design work to deliver the projects will soon commence at both floodplains, prior to submission of a developed business case which will undergo due diligence assessment.