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Funding flows under $10 billion national plan for water security.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Minister for the Environment and Water Resources

T226/07 12th October 2007


The Australian Government today launched key programmes under the $5.9 billion Modernising Irrigation component of the $10 billion National Plan for Water Security.

“Investments under the programmes I am launching today will deliver long term benefits for the Murray-Darling Basin and the communities that rely on its precious resources.

“The projects are the first under the Howard Government’s 10 year; $10 billion plan to put water use in the basin on a sustainable footing,” Malcolm Turnbull said.

On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull said a call for proposals for pilot on-farm irrigation efficiency projects will be advertised from this weekend.

"Under the $1.6 billion On-Farm Efficiency Programme of the National Plan for Water Security, organisations with direct links to on-farm irrigators are invited to apply for funding for pilot.

"Each pilot project will be required to save at least 25 mega litres per water entitlement for returning permanently to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder," he said.

Modernising Irrigation Delivery Systems

Mr Turnbull said a second component of the National Plan for Water Security package launched today is the Irrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance programme.

"A nationally advertised call for proposals begins this weekend directed at private irrigation water providers. Successful applicants will be eligible to receive funding of up to $500,000 to support development of modernisation plans for their districts" he said.

Modernisation plans will identify potential water savings available through the upgrade of aging irrigation infrastructure.

As part of this announcement the Australian Government is committing to support two projects to assist the development of a modernisation plan:

Macquarie Valley

• The Australian Government will provide funding to support the development of a modernisation plan for the Trangie-Nevertire irrigation supply scheme in the Macquarie Valley.

• In the Trangie-Nevertire irrigation supply scheme, where there is around 73,000Mls in entitlements, it is estimated that there is the potential to make water savings of up to 25,500 Mls or 35% through delivery system upgrades.

Murray Irrigation Limited

• The Australian Government will provide funding to support the development of a modernisation plan of Murray Irrigation Limited’s water supply infrastructure in the Murray Valley.

• Murray irrigation has 1,494,312 water entitlements from NSW Murray regulated river resource supplying water through 2,956 km gravity fed earthen channels, 3,900 irrigation outlets and further 1,425km gravity fed earthen channel stormwater system. It is estimated that there is likely to be about 50,000 mega litres of water savings achievable from a Murray irrigation modernisation.

In each case, funding of up to $500,000 will be available to conduct studies to assess and identify the potential for water savings through infrastructure upgrades, investigate potential water savings by matching land use to factors such as soil type, and matching on farm water deliver infrastructure to land use capability and crop type. Funding will be subject to the proposal meeting the programme requirements, as detailed in the Planning Assistance Guidelines.

Improving River Operations

Yatco Lakes Wetland Management and Pump Relocation - South Australia

Mr Turnbull said the Australian Government will also provide $3.3 million, from the $5.9 billion modernising irrigation in Australia programme, to improve river operations in the South Australian Murray by permanently disconnecting the Yatco Lagoon.

"Management of the wetland will be returned to a more natural cycle of drying and wetting, which is anticipated to save up to 2.5 gigalitres over three years currently lost to evaporation.

"This project will demonstrate how through improved river operations water savings can be generated. This project will complement the current contingency planning measures and measures being taken under the Living Murray Initiative," he said.

Labor’s approach to NPWS

Mr Turnbull said Labor had already demonstrated that they were prepared to raid funds from the $10 billion National Plan for Water Security for projects to prop up Labor candidates.

"The Plan is designed to improve irrigation delivery system efficiencies, improve on-farm irrigation efficiency, improve metering, monitoring and accounting of water resources, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of river operations and storages in the Murray-Darling Basin and address over-allocation.

"The funding under the National Plan for Water Security is not designed to upgrade urban water infrastructure, and it is certainly not designed to prop up Labor Candidates.

"We know Labor wants to raid the Future Fund, and now we know they want to raid the National Plan for Water Security."

Media Contact: Brad Burke 02 6277 7640 or 0400 337 252