Gardens thrive from lake water
The rock gardens' waterfall will now keep flowing even during periods of drought
The world's largest collection of Australian plants will now be irrigated with water piped from a nearby Canberran man-made lake.
The $2.9 million project includes a pipeline to transport water from Lake Burley Griffin to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra, saving up to 170 million litres of the city's drinking water each year.
It will also mean the gardens will no longer need to rely on the city's potable water supply.
"There was no doubt about the fact that we needed to secure a permanent water source for our collection and if we ever go through another drought, like the one we've had in recent times, we will always have a secure water source," Project Manager, Kaiya Browning said.
Before the lake water reaches the gardens' irrigation system, it will be filtered to meet World Health Organisation standards, ensuring the safety of staff and visitors who may come into contact with the water.
Potable water continues to be available in the gardens for drinking and all other nonirrigation purposes.
The project is jointly funded through the Australian Government's National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns, a key component of the Water for the Future initiative, and by the the Director of National Parks.
- View a short documentary about the project.
Rainforest Gully, Australian National Botanic Gardens
Returning water to Paiwalla Wetland
The Australian and South Australian governments have together delivered nearly a gigalitre of environmental water to Paiwalla Wetland since 2009 and the area is now teeming with birds, fish and frogs.
Paiwalla Wetland, near Murray Bridge in South Australia, is an important freshwater refuge for migratory birds and other water dependant species. Once an irrigated dairy property, the wetland has been rehabilitated to restore its original ecological value.
For the past 10 years, invasive weeds and feral species have been removed, the river bank has been revegetated and earthworks implemented to create islands and basins.
During drought conditions in 2009 and 2010, the river level near Paiwalla dropped so far it was no longer connected to the wetland. Environmental water, provided by federal and state governments, the Wetlands Habitat Trust and Healthy Rivers Australia, helped sustain the area until river flows returned after recent rainfall across the Murray-Darling Basin.
To help keep the rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin healthy, the Australian Government is purchasing water from farmers wanting to sell and returning this to the environment to benefit birds, fish, animals and plants. Last year, environmental water was used to maintain key refuge areas of our natural heritage along the River Murray, including Paiwalla Wetland.
Kate Mason, the local Wetland Manager with the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board, said following the environmental watering there has been a major increase in submerged aquatic plants, fringing reeds and sedges that encouraged water birds to the wetland to forage.
"Herbivorous water birds, such as swans, have used these underwater gardens for foraging and nesting, where as egrets, ducks, grebes and cormorants have feasted on the insects and vertebrates that inhabit these areas. Some duck species, including the musk duck listed as rare in South Australia, had successive breeding events at Paiwalla,"Kate said.
Local community group Wetland Habitats Trust's Martin Philcox said the delivery of environmental water to Paiwalla provided an extremely important drought refuge in the Lower Murray region.
It is one of only two wetland areas below Lock 1 that can permanently hold water in dry times.
He said species of frogs including Peron's tree frog, eastern banjo frog, spotted marsh frog, common froglet, barking marsh frog, brown tree frog and the threatened southern bell frog were recorded in high numbers.
Kate Mason said Paiwalla Wetland is also a breeding ground for the broad-shelled tortoise and a sanctuary for the large-footed myotis bat.
"Significantly, it currently has no exotic fish species, only natives due to precautions taken during pumping events," she said.
Paiwalla wetland, South Australia
Photo: Kate Mason, South Australia Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board
Library showcases green credentials
Curtin student exhibition
Photo: Shire of Peppermint Grove
The Peppermint Grove library is not just a place to read books; the new library and precinct serve as an important community space that highlights the value of sustainable energy and water use.
The Grove Library and Precinct in Perth is a joint project with the towns of Cottesloe and Mosman Park and the Shire of Peppermint Grove and contains a library and community centre for the three communities.
The new building features innovative and ecologically sustainable design features and technologies that will save up to 1.5 megalitres of water and 193,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year. The environmentally sustainable design features include:
- a 20 kW capacity photovoltaic system, a solar hot water system and a wind turbine system to generate an estimated total of 47,000 kWh a year
- energy and water efficient fixtures and fittings, including sensor lighting control
- climate sensitive building design through a thermal maze, in-ground heat exchange and double glazing
- a rainwater harvesting system with 258,000 litre capacity storage tanks, and
- wastewater and stormwater treatment and recycling systems.
Curtin student exhibition
Photo: Shire of Peppermint Grove
Community involvement is an important part of the Grove Library Project. A series of sustainable workshops and events, community forums and school programs will give participants practical first hand information on the smart design ideas and lifestyle changes they can incorporate into their own lives.
The Australian Government provided $1.5 million in funding for the project through the Green Precincts Fund. The Green Precincts Fund supports projects that encourage water and energy savings measures at the community level to deliver direct environmental benefits and raise community awareness about water and energy savings.
For further information on the Green Precincts Fund you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 6274 1937.
Water in the Budget
The Australian Government will invest $845 million in the 2011-12 Budget under the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program (SRWUIP), to continue delivering water infrastructure and investments in rural water use, management and efficiency across Australia. Projects funded by SRWUIP will improve efficiency and productivity of rural water use and management, deliver water returns to the environment and help secure a long-term sustainable future for irrigated agriculture.
In response to issues raised by stakeholders in the Murray Darling Basin, the Government is seeking to eliminate the timing discrepancy between when payments are taxed and when deductions are available for irrigators who take up water efficiency investment grants under SRWUIP.
An additional $328.1 million in the 2011-12 Budget is allocated to water purchases. In response to stakeholder feedback, the Government has adopted a new approach for water purchases, with a strategy of smaller, more consistent 'rolling' rounds of tenders adopted to minimise the impact on the water market.
The water-efficient house: it's easy!
Have you ever wondered what you can do to save money on utility bills, while doing something good for our environment?
Showering, clothes washing and toilet flushing make up more than three quarters of a typical household's indoor water consumption.
By choosing water efficient products you can make significant savings in water and energy use.
- A water efficient showerhead is probably the most economical way to start reducing overall water consumption. Efficient models can reduce water and energy consumption by 43 to 62 per cent* over more traditional designs. This change can also reduce your combined water and power bills by $375 to $535* per year.
- Choosing a more water efficient washing machine when your old one needs replacing can reduce water and energy consumption by 50 to 75 per cent* and save $90 to $135* per year on bills.
- If the bathroom is part of your next renovation, have water efficiency in mind when selecting a new toilet. A water-efficient model can reduce consumption by 48 to 60 per cent*.
For your best guide to the water efficiency of these and other water-using products look for this water efficiency label:
Visit Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards(WELS) Scheme website to compare all products that must be labeled to show their water efficiency: showers, washing machines, dishwashers, tapware, toilets and urinals.
By 2021, it is estimated that using water efficient products will help:
- reduce domestic water use by more than 100,000 megalitres each year
- save more than 800,000 megalitres of water (more water than Sydney Harbour), and
- reduce total greenhouse gas output by 400,000 tonnes each year - equivalent to taking 90,000 cars off the road each year.
* Figures based on data from Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme and Royal Melbourne Institute Technology available at Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards(WELS) Scheme website.
Householders urged to apply for rebate
Householders who purchased a rainwater tank or greywater system on or before 10 May 2011 are being urged to apply for a federal government rebate before it is too late.
The Australian Government's National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative household rebates are no longer available for rainwater tanks or greywater systems.
Households can still apply for a rebate for rainwater tanks or greywater systems that were purchased on or before 10 May 2011. All applications must still meet the eligibility criteria and must be received by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities by 10 November 2011.
Other rebates may still be available through state, territory or local governments; householders should contact the relevant authorities for information about other rebates.
The National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative household rebate guidelines and application form are available from National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative - Household Rebate webpage or can be obtained by calling 1800 218 478.
New guide on acid sulfate soils
Acid sulfate soils in inland aquatic ecosystems can pose significant risks to environmental and human health. When exposed to air, acid sulfate soils produce sulphuric acid and often release toxic quantities of iron, aluminium and heavy metals. This can lead to risks in water and soil quality, aquatic ecosystems, human health, primary industries and the built environment.
Seasonal changes, land use and water demands contribute to the formation and exposure of acid sulfate soils in inland aquatic ecosystems, with drought and climate change intensifying the problem. Despite higher water availability from recent rainfall, the problems caused by acid sulfate soils have not gone away.
The potential harmful effects of inland acid sulfate soils and the lack of management guidance nationally has driven Australian, state and territory governments to produce the National guidance for the management of acid sulfate soils in inland aquatic ecosystems.
This document provides best practice management of inland acid sulfate soils to help stop the risks they pose to the Australian environment, economy and society. It is designed to help natural resource managers, planners, policy makers and other practitioners assess and manage acid sulfate soils in inland aquatic ecosystems.
For further information on this document or to provide feedback, please email email@example.com and include 'acid sulfate soils' in the subject line of your email.
Bottle Bend Lagoon, NSW after acidification
Photo: D Baldwin, Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre
Acid sulfate soils in the Edward Wakool River system
Photo: M Tulau, DECCW NSW
Open for applications
Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program in New South Wales
Applications close: Friday 22 July 2011
Prime Minister's Water Wise Award nominations
Applications close: 8 August 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 for rainwater tanks or greywater systems purchased on or before 10 May 2011
Applications close: 10 November 2011
Nominations open for Prime Minister's Water Wise Award
The 2011 Prime Minister's Water Wise Award is open for nominations. The award is in its second year and is the nation's premier award recognising water efficiency excellence by commercial and industrial water users. Commercial and industrial companies that can demonstrate recent water savings are encouraged to apply.
The commercial and industrial sectors, on average, use around 15 to 20 per cent of urban water in Australia. If companies in these sectors achieve greater water efficiency it will take pressure off fresh water supplies in urban and regional areas.
To be eligible for the award, companies achieve water savings through a variety of means, including metering and monitoring, installing water efficient devices, or implementing innovative technologies that reduce water use.
Applications close 5pm AEST on 8 August 2011 and the winners will be announced at a gala ceremony hosted by the savewater! Alliance in November 2011.
The Prime Minister's Water Wise Award is part of the Water Efficiency Opportunities program, under the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative.
- More information on the award to visit savewater website.
Suggest a resource for the Water Education Toolkit
The Australian Government's Water Education Toolkit is a web portal designed to provide teachers, schools and students with easy access to hundreds of online water resources.
Water is a popular subject in the classroom, from science and geography to human resources and cultural studies. The classroom provides a great environment for children and young adults to learn about water issues and incorporate water smart behaviour into their everyday lives.
The Water Education Toolkit brings together more than 700 national, state, territory, regional and urban water education resources into one easily accessible, convenient and comprehensive web portal.
The Toolkit is regularly updated so if you would like to add a resource follow the links to the 'suggest a resource' form on the website.
Although this resource is mainly to assist teachers, students will also find it a valuable tool when researching school assignments and seeking additional water information.
Teachers and students will be able to find case-studies, lesson and unit plans, visual aids, in-class activities, Indigenous cultural resources, informational resources, games, experiments and more.
- For more information visit the Water Education Toolkit
National Water Commission: new reports
Future directions for urban water
The Urban water in Australia: future directions report calls for Australian governments to consider new directions to reinvigorate the way urban water is managed.
The report encourages discussion and provides a platform for change. It draws upon the experience and observations of more than 50 water experts in Australia and internationally.
Measuring the performance of Australia's water utilities
The National Water Commission released two reports last month that measure the performance of Australia's water utilities.
The urban water utilities report shows rising storage levels have allowed most utilities to ease restrictions or move to permanent water conservation measures, leading to slightly increased household consumption in 2009-10.
In regional Australia, the rural water service report found that water infrastructure is being transformed, largely through the progressive piping of open channel carrier networks.
Rethink on water pricing
The National Water Commission has released four reports that look at water pricing options and opportunities for greater competition.
The Review of pricing reform in the Australian water sector report shows that approaches to pricing reforms have been patchy across states and territories, and makes nine recommendations on future water pricing reforms.
Three additional reports examine externality pricing, efficient water resource pricing , and competition in the urban water sector .
Hard copies of all reports are available on request from the National Water Commission's bookshop .
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For up-to-date information about the Water for the Future initiative.