AUS$3.7bn of projects in Murray Action Plan
Australian Federal and State governments have finalised the Inter Governmental Agreement to secure a sustainable future for the Murray Darling Basin, Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, said. The agreement establishes a single body to manage the Basin, that will establish the first-ever Basin-wide management plan and will set a cap on the amount of water that can be extracted from its rivers and groundwater. Also, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting agreed on further projects to be funded as part of the historic deal, bringing the value of the Rudd Government’s committed projects across the Murray Darling Basin to $3.7 billion to date.
‘These projects will help us deal with the current and future challenges of climate change in the Basin,” Senator Wong said.
“They form a substantial part of our Australia-wide commitment to water under the Rudd Government’s $12.9 billion Water for the Future plan.
“This agreement means there will be urgent action to progress these important projects. “We will have a new Basin-wide Plan that puts the national interest first and responds to the threat climate change is posing to the Murray-Darling. “And for the first time ever, we will have an enforceable, scientifically-informed limit on the amount of water that can be taken out of our rivers and groundwater systems across the Basin.
“These projects will help farmers use water more efficiently as we deal with the impacts of climate change.” Senator Wong said that all of the commitments are subject to due diligence. Senator Wong said the Government was pleased that COAG had stated it’s ambition to increase the interim cap on permanent trades out of water districts from four to six per cent by the end of 2009.
“It is in the interests of all Murray Darling Basin irrigators that we create a modern water market, so that water can go to where it brings the most benefit,” Senator Wong said.
The projects are as follows:
New South Wales: $1.3 billion for new priority projects to improve irrigation infrastructure and river health.
- Includes some $650 million for upgrades in privately operated irrigation areas.
- Builds the Rudd Government’s existing election commitment of up to $400 million to save water at the Menindee Lakes.
South Australia: Up to $610 million for projects in South Australia.
- Includes $200 million for an enduring solution to the problems facing the Lower Lakes and Coorong, with $10 million immediately available to accelerate projects for the Lower Lakes and Coorong.
- $120 million will be spent on piping works to service towns, communities and irrigators currently relying on the Lower Lakes for their water supply.
- Reaffirmed commitment to up to $1 billion for Stage 2 of Victoria’s Foodbowl Modernisation Project, subject to due diligence.
- Commitment in principle to fund up to a further $103 million for infrastructure projects in Victoria’s private irrigation districts.
Queensland: Up to $510 million to new priority projects in Queensland.
- Includes funding for irrigation improvements and up to $350 million for future water purchases in Queensland’s area of the Murray Darling Basin.
ACT: Up to $85 million for salt reduction activities in the ACT.
- This will improve the health of rivers by reducing the amount of salt that ends up downstream.
“The Rudd Government’s plan to secure Australia’s water future has four priorities: tackling climate change, supporting healthy rivers, using water wisely and securing our water supplies. “The Inter Governmental Agreement and the water projects agreed today will assist considerably in delivering on these priorities.”