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Immediate action on water quality problems: Crean

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21 December 1992


"The additional $46 million over four years for improved water management in rural and urban catchments will allow the immediate tackling of key sources of nutrient pollution, such as sewage plants, that^ contribute to algal blooms in the Murray-Darling Basin," said the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean/. ...............

$30 million would help clean up catchments and their rivers, and address major point sources of nutrients such as town sewerage works. The Country Towns Water Supply Improvement Program will also be extended to include waste water treatment for small rural communities at a cost of $16 million. Mr Crean said there was little point in addressing water quality problems in isolation. Inevitably many water quality problems can be traced back to activities elsewhere in the catchment. This is where they must be dealt with - before they become someone else's problem further down the catchment. ยท

A recent study has identified 10 towns and cities - Toowoomba, Orange, Bathurst, Tamworth, Dubbo, Gunnedah, Moree, Inverell, Narrabri and Dalby - as responsible for 90 per cent of the sewerage phosphate in the Darling River. "The additional funds will allow an immediate assessment, and early implementation, in

consultation with State and local governments, of the most effective and efficient methods of addressing significant sources of nutrients to our important river systems," Mr Crean said.

"Extending the scope of the Country Towns Water Supply Improvement Program (COWSIP) to include waste water treatment would build on the success of this program in delivering better quality water to small rural communities. Since the program started in 1985, over $30 million has already been allocated to 150 communities, helping to provide over 110,000 people with better quality water. The extension of this program to include waste water treatment would help deliver better quality water back to the environment and other

users. Sewerage treatment and disposal projects would provide opportunities to demonstrate effective and innovative Australian technology including the use of artificial wetlands and plantations irrigated with effluent. Measures for the more efficient use of chemicals, particularly fertilisers and detergents would also be developed in consultation with industry, “ said Mr Crean. "More efficient Use means lower costs to users and to the environment. The Government will also work with industry to reduce the impact of phosphates from detergents and encourage the increased use of more cost effective and environmentally friendly alternatives.

"In urban areas, innovative projects demonstrating cost effective technologies and methods of stormwater management and wastewater management and disposal,- including improved flood mitigation outcomes would be pursued. This initiative would build on and consolidate the success of existing community based initiatives such as the Western Sydney Drainage Initiative and the landcare movement to address urban land and water management problems.

'"These two initiatives build further on the Government's strong record of support for sustainable resource management, at the community level", he said.

"Complementary policy and institutional reforms to improve the efficiency of water allocation and use . including establishing environmental water entitlements would also be pursued through the initiative. These initiatives represent the Government's approach to Ecologically Sustainable Development. It is ESD in practice - being smarter, using our resources more efficiently, and protecting and enhancing both our

productive base and environmental values, in partnership with local and state governments", Mr Crean said.

Further information: Catherine Payne, Mr Crean's Office (06) 277 7520. Copies of the Prime Minister’s Environment Statement may be obtained by phoning (008) 803772 or (06) 2741221.