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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

SA emergency action in the Goolwa Channel can go ahead

Media release
12 May 2009

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Environment Minister Peter Garrett has today decided that a proposal by the South Australian Government to take emergency action to manage acid sulphate soils in the Goolwa Channel, Finniss River and Currency Creek in South Australia's Lower Lakes does not need further assessment under national environment law.

"This is a temporary measure to arrest the devastating threat of acidification. It's clear to me that not taking this action would result in a bad environmental outcome and the action needs to be taken quickly. It is also clear to me that when carried out in the manner agreed by South Australia, there will be no adverse impact on matters of National Environmental Significance.

"This is certainly not a decision I have taken lightly. I have carefully considered the public submissions on this and the expert advice from my department." Minister Garrett said.

The South Australian proposal includes the construction of temporary flow regulators within the Goolwa Channel near Clayton, and in the mouths of the Finniss River and Currency Creek, and pumping water from Lake Alexandrina to the new temporary pool created in the Goolwa Channel. This will create a pool of water which will inundate areas of acid sulphate soil.

"I accept South Australia's undertaking that this proposal is temporary and a necessary step to stop further acid generation and manage acidification impacts. This will be critical to the future recovery of the system," he said.

The South Australian Government has made a series of undertakings to ensure there are no significant impacts on nationally protected matters.

These undertakings include the requirements for the South Australian Government to:

"I have limited the flow regulators to only operating for two years. However, I acknowledge that South Australia will need to assess the benefits of winter rainfall to the system. If the South Australian Government wishes to operate these emergency measures for more than two years, they must refer longer term action for assessment under national environmental law. This referral would need to happen by 1 December this year," he said.

The proposal was referred to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and was put out for a ten day period of public comment from 6 to 22 April 2009.

Commonwealth of Australia