Water Matters - Issue 14
The Basin Plan and water reform
The independent Murray-Darling Basin Authority has released the draft Basin Plan and is now conducting a 20 week consultation to seek communities' comments on the draft. The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has produced several documents about how the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative will help bridge the gap to the proposed sustainable diversion limits set out in the draft Basin Plan.
- Delivering a healthy working Basin, supporting communities, industry and the environment places the draft Basin Plan in the context of the government's water reform agenda
- Restoring river health in the Murray-Darling Basin, Commonwealth Environmental Water explains the need for additional environmental water in the Basin and the work of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
- The importance of water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin details how the Basin Plan and other water policies contribute to a healthy working Basin underpinned by healthy rivers, sustainable food production and strong communities
- A series of fact sheets on key issues including water recovery to 'bridge the gap', environmental water, environmental works and measures, and water saving infrastructure, and
- Moving water long distances: grand schemes or pipe dreams outlines the considerations associated with moving water long distances and other ways to secure water supplies.
These documents can be downloaded from The Basin Plan web page.
Hard copies are also available by calling the department's Community Information Unit on 1800 218 478 (toll free) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Specific Basin Plan information is available from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority website .
World class irrigation system for northern Victoria
If you've had milk in your tea, a glass of wine, cheese or tomato on your sandwich or canned peaches on your cereal, chances are you've consumed produce grown in northern Victoria's Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID), known as Victoria's foodbowl.
Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (NVIRP)
Irrigated farming in the district is dependent on a reliable water supply and cost effective and efficient delivery infrastructure. Most of the irrigation infrastructure in the district is more than 80 years old, inefficient and increasingly costly to operate. Each year, an average of 700 to 800 gigalitres of water is lost through evaporation, seepage, leakage and inefficiencies.
In October 2011, in recognition of the GMID's importance as one of Australia's most abundant food producing regions, the Australian Government committed $953 million - 90 per cent of the total project cost - to the $1.06 billion Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project Stage 2 (NVIRP 2).
NVIRP 2 will undertake a major upgrade of the irrigation infrastructure system within the GMID to ensure it is economically and environmentally sustainable into the future while improving river health.
The modernised system will provide a responsive, efficient irrigation supply system, which will deliver more water with a faster turnaround and provide opportunities for irrigators to better manage the quantity and value of production. The project is expected to support the economic viability of the region for the long-term.
NVIRP 2 will also help reduce the environmental footprint of the irrigation system on wetlands of international significance and deliver broader environmental benefits, including improved river health by reducing the amount of salt going into the Murray and Goulburn rivers.
The major component of NVIRP 2 is the Connections Program, which could potentially involve more than 5000 serviced properties within the district. It aims to consolidate connections and ensure as many customers as possible are connected directly to a modernised network of supply channels known as "the backbone".
For more information please see Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project Stage 2
World Wetlands Day 2 February 2012
Kakadu National Park
Photo: Michelle McAulay, DSEWPaC
'Wetlands and tourism' is the theme for World Wetlands Day 2012.
Each year on 2 February, World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally to mark the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance at Ramsar, Iran in 1971.
Australia was one of the first countries to join the Convention. In 1974, Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory was designated the world's first Wetland of International Importance.
Australia now has 64 Ramsar sites covering more than eight million hectares, including the iconic Kakadu National Park.
In 2012, a special edition of Wetlands Australia magazine will focus on tourism and recreation at Australia's wetlands.
You can subscribe Wetlands Australia to receive notification of its release. The primary school education kit, Discovering Wetlands in Australia, is available to schools and community groups to help students learn more about Australia's wetlands.
For printed copies, please visit Wetlands Australia web page or phone 1800 218 478.
Two new reports, one on management options for Menindee Lakes and the other on options to secure Broken Hill's water supply are now available.
Darling Water Savings: Options for Environmental Filling, No Impacts, Version 2
The CSIRO hydrological modelling study identifies management options for Menindee Lakes that would result in no impact on downstream users but maximise water for the environment and significantly reduce evaporation losses.
Securing Broken Hill's Water Supply: Assessment of Groundwater Extraction and Conjunctive Water Supply Options at Menindee Lakes
The Geoscience Australia professional opinion indicates that groundwater resources, in conjunction with the existing surface water supply from the Darling River and Menindee Lakes, would have the capacity to secure the water supply for Broken Hill.
- Securing Broken Hill's Water Supply: Assessment of Groundwater Extraction and Conjunctive Water Supply Options at Menindee Lakes
For more information, please see Menindee Lakes Project
Snowy River environmental flows
Snowy River, NSW
Footage: Alex Zuk DSEWPaC
The Snowy River is naturally fast flowing, with its headwaters running from Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak.
Banjo Patterson likened the speed of his legendary character, the man from Snowy River, on horseback to the "torrents down its bed".
But with regulation of the Snowy River in the sixties, its flows have dwindled.
Without strong flows to flush the system, silt and rocks have built up, smothering habitat for native species.
An agreement by the New South Wales, Victorian and Australian governments will now see water released into the river annually, except in dry years. A large-scale release took place in October 2011. Over 19 days, 84 billion litres - about 42,000 Olympic swimming pools - was released into the Snowy River from Jindabyne Dam.
The exercise was carefully managed by Snowy Hydro Limited and the New South Wales Office of Water. The flows were strong enough to flush out rocks the size of footballs, allowing silt trapped underneath to also be washed away.
The clean river bed will provide habitat for invertebrates that native animals, including platypus, feed on.
The release occured in Spring to mimic the high flows the river experiences under natural conditions as snow melts off the Snowy Mountains and runs into the river channel.
The images to the right are screen shots taken from a video produced on the October 2011 water release. The incredible footage can be viewed in full at: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities' YouTube channel
Snowy River, NSW
Footage: Alex Zuk DSEWPaC
Snowy River, NSW
Footage: Alex Zuk DSEWPaC
Snowy River, NSW
Footage: Alex Zuk DSEWPaC
Prime Minister's Water Wise Award
Queensland-based landscape supply company, Nursery Traders Pty Ltd, has won the 2011 Prime Minister's Water Wise Award.
The company's water harvesting and recycling projects have reduced reliance on potable water by 98.5 per cent per hectare, saving nearly 60 million litres of water in the past year and generating more than 100,000 kilowatt-hours of green energy to date.
Nursery Traders Pty Ltd and the other four finalists, Encore Tissue (Aust) Pty Ltd, Geelong Racing Club, Plant Growers Australia Pty Ltd and Village Centre Batemans Bay, are congratulated for their leadership and excellence in water savings.
The Prime Minister's Water Wise Award recognises water efficiency excellence by commercial and industrial water users. For more information please see: Prime Minister's Water Wise Award.
Tim Bunker, Managing Director and Bob Anderson, General
Manager, Nursery Traders Pty Ltd
Photo: Howard Moffat and AUSPIC
Nursery Traders Pty Ltd, Queensland
Photo:Nursery Traders Pty Ltd
Putting our environment in your hands
The Australian Government is bringing the environment to your fingertips, no matter where you are.
The MyEnvironment app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is a free service listing Australia's environmental assets and heritage sites. Whether you're exploring a hidden pocket of wilderness or your own backyard, MyEnvironment can search for a location and present detailed information across a wide range of datasets including wetlands, protected or invasive species, historic shipwrecks, weeds and sites of national or world heritage significance. The app includes descriptions, maps and photographs.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office has launched its new website featuring a multimedia gallery of videos, photographs, webcams and podcasts. The gallery showcases the diverse nature of environmental watering, the stakeholders engaged and the environmental benefits.
The department is now on Twitter, follow us on: @envirogov
The department is also developing a photostream Flickr site
Subscribe to the department's YouTube channel
Our latest water vodcasts include Snowy River environmental flows, community planting in the Coorong Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region, and Commonwealth environmental watering.
Taps turned on at historic pipeline
The communities of Gosford and Wyong in New South Wales celebrated the historic opening of the Mardi-Mangrove Pipeline Link in October.
Mardi-Magrove pipeline opening
Photo: Gosford City Council
The pipeline is the largest piece of water infrastructure to be built on the Central Coast in more than 25 years.
The pipeline will help secure water supplies for Central Coast residents. It means communities will have enough water for their growing population and reduce the frequency of water restrictions.
The project will help boost Mangrove Creek Dam levels, speed up drought recovery and protect the region from periods of below-average rainfall.
The pipeline links Wyong River and Ourimbah Creek to Mangrove Creek Dam so during high flows excess water can be piped from the river to the dam for storage. Stored water can be transferred back to the river during low flows to maintain the health of the river ecosystem.
Construction involved a new river off-take from the lower Wyong River, two new water pumping stations, a new rising main to transfer water from the Wyong River pumping station to Mardi Dam, and a new 21 km two-way pipeline linking Mardi Dam with Mangrove Creek Dam.
The $120 million Mardi-Mangrove Pipeline Link was jointly funded by the Australian Government, Gosford City Council and Wyong Shire Council. The Australian Government provided $80.3 million in funding through its Water for the Future initiative.
Consultation paper on changes to the WELS scheme
A consultation paper on proposed changes to the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme is now open for public submissions.
The WELS scheme is seeking stakeholder feedback on options to deliver new arrangements and proposed changes, which include:
- changes to the scheme's funding arrangements
- proposed changes to registration rules and processes
- proposed changes to compliance and enforcement activities, and
- additional changes to further the scheme's development.
The proposed changes follow agreement by the Standing Council for Environment and Water to the joint response of the Australian, state and territory governments to the 2010 Independent Review of the WELS scheme.
Submissions can be emailed to: email@example.com until 29 February 2012.
For more information: Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme website
Open grant round
rrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance helps irrigation water providers to develop modernisation plans for their districts that identify ways to upgrade irrigation infrastructure and assess options to adapt to a future with less water.
Applications close: 29 October 2012 (unless all available funds are committed earlier)