13 March 2024

More funding committed to Murray-Darling Basin Plan water-saving projects

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Murray-Darling Basin

The region adjacent to the Koondrook-Perricoota Forest is one of five projects that will receive additional funding. Photo: Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The Federal and NSW governments have announced an additional $115 million will be allocated to five water-saving projects in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The projects are designed to contribute to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s 605GL environmental water target and reduce the need for voluntary water purchase from basin farmers in the southern basin.

They will update infrastructure, enable more targeted water delivery, boost aquatic and riparian habitats, provide improved fish passage, reinstate flows, generate local jobs, and provide better conditions for First Nations cultural activities.

READ ALSO ‘Largely forgotten’ Upper Murrumbidgee River left in ‘perilous state’, governments called on to act

The five boosted projects are:

  • Koondrook-Perricoota – mitigating third-party impacts of water releases on landholders adjacent to the forest and creating breeding opportunities for native waterbirds and fish in the wetlands. It includes building critical levees, replacing regulators and removing constraints to improve flows.
  • Mid-Murray Anabranches Project – improving connectivity between the Murray and Edward rivers, and surrounding creeks. It includes constructing new bridges and rock crossings, upgrading levees and access roads, as well as removing barriers to fish movement.
  • Lower Murray: Locks 8 and 9 project – restoring and enhancing the river habitat across the interconnected Frenchmans Creek and Carrs, Capitts and Bunberoo Creek systems. It includes installing new regulators and fishways, upgrading fish passages and changing the operating principles for weirs eight and nine to reinstate a more variable watering regime.
  • Murrumbidgee and Murray National Parks Project – improving the delivery of environmental water in the Yanga and Murray Valley (Millewa) national parks. It includes building sills, upgrading regulators and removing earthen embankments including levees.
  • Yanco Creek Modernisation Project – modernising infrastructure to enable smarter use of water in the Yanco Creek system. It includes replacing water regulators and constructing and restoring fish passages.

Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek said delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was critical.

“Our bill has given states like NSW more time and more options to deliver the water we need to keep the rivers flowing, including through infrastructure projects,” she said. “This funding is available to other basin governments who have signed on.

“We’re determined to work together to deliver a healthy and sustainable river system for the communities, farmers, First Nations groups and environment that rely on it.”

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NSW Minister for Water Rose Jackson said the announcement was great news for the Murray and Murrumbidgee.

“This additional $115 million will get our water-saving projects moving in the right direction so we can meet our commitments under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” she said.

“I have been advocating strongly for more time and flexibility so we can get shovels in the ground to help deliver more water for the environment. This is a good example of the work we are doing to prioritise other forms of water recovery beyond buybacks.

“These five infrastructure projects strike the right balance between water recovery for the environment and supporting resilient, productive and sustainable agriculture, industries and local communities,” she added.

“We have also been working collaboratively with the Federal Government to fix and resubmit our water resource plans prioritising those that we know can be accredited. I am pleased we are now halfway there and are working hard to help ensure the next nine plans get over the line.”

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