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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 770


Senator Hanson-Young asked the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, upon notice, on 15 November 2010:

(1)   Can a detailed breakdown be provided of all state priority projects that are being funded, are to be funded in the future, or are under consideration for funding under the $3.7 billion set aside for that purpose under the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure program, and for each project:

(a)   what is the nature of the project;

(b)   whether the state government has submitted project details: if so, when;

(c)   whether the Commonwealth Government has requested more information from the proponent of each project, or approved the project, and if so, when;

(d)   what is the cost of the project;

(e)   what are the benefits that the project will deliver;

(f)   how much water savings will the project deliver and at what cost;

(g)   how much of the water ‘saved’ in each project would normally flow back to rivers and other wetlands if the project was not implemented; and

(h)   whether it is possible for the Commonwealth to not proceed with funding the project and why.

(2)   How much money remains of the original $3.7 billion.

(3) (a)   What federal money is presently available to assist Murray-Darling Basin communities to transition to a lower water future, aside from money that will be used for water buybacks and irrigator efficiency; and (b) how does the Government presently plan to spend that money.


Senator Conroy (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) —The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   Funding of $3.7 billion is committed in-principle for the State Priority Projects (SPPs), of which $3.2 billion is funded from the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program (SRWUIP) and $430 million is funded from the Restoring the Balance for water purchase program. Of the SRWUIP-funded SPPs, 13 are State-led projects ($2.5 billion) and two are Commonwealth-led programs ($760 million). In relation to the State-led projects, business Cases were received from all jurisdictions by 30 June 2010, except the ACT. Of the 12 projects for which business cases have been received: one project is complete; two are underway; one has been recently approved to proceed to contract negotiation; one is the subject of ongoing negotiation; and seven are currently undergoing due diligence assessment. The two Commonwealth-led programs - the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program in NSW and the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Program in South Australia (PIIPSA) are underway - with successful applicants for Round One announced and projects already contracted or on contract negotiations. A call for applications under Round 2 of PIIPSA was made on 5 November 2010. For those Priority Projects that have been agreed (but may not yet be signed in contract) the expected total project water savings is around 300 GL (entitlements). Of this, around 150 GL (long term average yield) is expected to transfer to the Commonwealth for the environment. A description of the nature of the SPPs, the status and cost of the project, and the benefits the projects aim to deliver, subject to due diligence assessment, is provided at Attachment A. Until the outcomes of due diligence assessments are finalised and contracts are signed it is not possible to determine the total volume of water savings that will be achieved through the SPPs, or where the water will be used by the Commonwealth for environmental watering. If a project does not pass due diligence assessment, clause 4.12.5 of the Intergovernmental Agreement for Murray Darling Basin Reform of July 2008 provides for the parties to enter into discussion about possible reconfiguration of the project on a no commitment basis.

(2)   Up to $3.7 billion remains committed to the State Priority Projects agreed as part of the Intergovernmental Agreement of Murray Darling Basin Reform. Of the $3.2b for the State Priority Projects funded under SRWUIP: a. as at 31 October 2010, $160 million has been expended on State Priority Projects funded under the SRWUIP; b. funding of $952.8 million was announced on 6 November 2010 for the Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project, subject to contract negotiations; c. $266 million has been announced so far under the two Commonwealth led grant programs in NSW and SA; and d. contracts are signed and underway for around $130m for Priority Projects and start up activities, including early works in Victoria and New South Wales and South Australia and agreed projects in Queensland. Some of this contracted money has been expended.

(3)   The Australian Government has announced funding of up to $200 million under the SRWUIP for the Strengthening Basin Communities program, which assists local governments in the Murray-Darling Basin plan for reduced water availability and deliver associated local water saving initiatives. At 19 November 2010, $44 million in grants to 75 projects had been committed under this program, involving 70 per cent of the local government authorities in the Basin.

Attachment A

State Priority Projects

State

Project Title

Status

Short Project Description

Total Project Value (up to $m)

South Australia

Lower Lakes Integrated Pipelines

Project Complete.

Construction of three pipelines, including two potable pipelines and one irrigation pipeline servicing communities that were previously reliant on the Lower Lakes.

120

Riverine Recovery

Early Works approved. Full business case under due diligence.

The proposed project will invest in wetland and floodplain management and infrastructure to restore river operations.

100

Lower Lakes and Coorong Recovery

Feasibility Study complete. Early Works underway. Full business case under due diligence.

Remedial works in the Lower Lakes area of South Australia aimed at providing enduring environmental outcomes for the Coorong and Lower Lakes.

200

Private Irrigation Infrastructure Program

Round 1 contract negotiations and Round 2 open.

A Commonwealth-led grant program open to irrigators which aims to improve the efficiency and productivity of water use both off and on-farm and generate water savings for the environment.

110

Victoria

Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Stage 2

Contract negotiations.

Modernisation of the channels, replacement or removal of meter outlets, and creation of new direct connections for customers currently connected to distribution and spur channels. The project will address system level water efficiency and generate water savings for the environment.

1,000

Sunraysia Modernisation

Under due diligence assessment.

The proposed project aims to renew or replace main pumping stations and line or pipe the main delivery arteries in three irrigation districts around Mildura.

103

New South

Wales

On Farm Irrigated Farm Modernisation

Early Works underway. Full business case under due diligence assessment.

The proposed project aims to increase the water use efficiency of irrigated agriculture in regulated catchments in the NSW Murray-Darling Basin.

300

Basin Pipe (North and South)

Under due diligence assessment.

The proposed project aims to replace current irrigation infrastructure with more efficient piped irrigation systems in the Murray-Darling Basin.

137

NSW Water Metering Scheme

Early Works underway. Full business case under due diligence assessment.

The proposed project aims to install or upgrade meters in NSW groundwater, unregulated and regulated water sources and replace existing customer-owned meters with State Water-owned meters connected via telemetry.

221

Healthy Floodplains

Under due diligence assessment.

The proposed project aims to reform the management of water on floodplains across the Murray-Darling Basin.

50

Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program

Contract negotiations for Round 1.

A Commonwealth-led grant program open to private Irrigation Operators in NSW to improve the efficiency and productivity of water use both off and on-farm and will generate water savings for the environment.

650

Australian Capital Territory

Salt Management Strategy

Final Business Case not delivered to date.

The proposed project aims to reduce salt concentration in ACT waterways and provide environmental and economic benefits to the ACT.

85

Queensland

On Farm Water Use Efficiency

Phase 1 agreed 13 April 2010. Project underway.

Investment in on-farm works and measures that lead to improved water use efficiency that will recover and share water savings from implementing on-farm water saving technologies.

115

SunWater infrastructure modernisation

Project scope under negotiation.

The proposed project involves modernisation of six SunWater owned supply schemes, to increase the volume of usable water, and enhance the capacity to provide flows for environmental purposes.

40

Coal Seam Gas Water feasibility study

Project agreed 13 April 2010. Project underway.

A feasibility study aimed at undertaking a detailed analysis of the use of Coal Seam Gas water in the Qld Murray-Darling Basin.

5