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Notice given 17 April 2007

Senator Allison: To ask the Ministers listed below (Question Nos 3112-3113)—

(1) What research, if any, is being conducted on deep groundwater mapping in Australia.

(2) What does the Government understand to be the capacity for deep groundwater to provide fresh water supplies for agriculture and urban use in Australia.

(3) Since 2003, what amount of funding has the Government provided for projects to lower the water table as a form of salinity mitigation.

(4) Is it the case that drainage projects to lower the water table are now considered largely ineffective.

(5) (a) What salinity mitigation strategy is considered most effective; and (b) what assessment has been made of the extent, from this form of salinity mitigation, of: (i) dehydration of soils, and (ii) damage to the health of soils.

(6) (a) What research has been conducted on degraded agricultural soil mapping; and (b) what assessment has been made of the extent in compacted and/or degraded soils of: (i) loss of carbon, (ii) loss of microbes and nutrients, (iii) the reduction in the capacity for water storage, (iv) the reduction in the seepage of fresh water from soil into surface dams and river systems, (v) the reduction in deep soil water percolation, (vi) increases in surface runoff from precipitation, and (vii) salination, as caused by the concentration of soil by the lateral flow of water through degraded soil.

(7) What research is being conducted into the science of soil health.

(8) What involvement does the department have with Healthy Soils Australia.

3113 Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training