Water Matters Issue 33 – August 2014 2014


Water Matters Issue 33 – August 2014


Groundwater tender in Queensland Central Condamine Alluvium – closes 14 August 2014

A new tender for groundwater purchases in the Queensland Central Condamine Alluvium opened on 21 July. Groundwater entitlement holders have until 14 August to make an offer.

Groundwater purchases in the area will contribute towards the Government’s commitment to bridging the gap to meet the Sustainable Diversion Limits as set out in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and are an important step towards long term sustainability for groundwater irrigators in the region.

Further information including program guidelines and application forms will be made available at:

Review of the Water Act 2007

On 12 May 2014 an independent review of the Water Act 2007 was announced by Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment.

The independent review is being led by Mr Eamonn Moran PSM QC (Expert Panel Chair) and supported by Mr Peter Anderson, Mr Gavin McMahon and Dr Steve Morton.

The review will consider whether the Water Act is delivering on its objectives effectively and with the minimum necessary regulatory burden imposed on the water industry, water managers and irrigators.

The Expert Panel is now considering over 70 submissions received through the public submission process.

For more information go to:

10th anniversary of the National Water Initiative

It’s been 10 years since the Council of Australian Governments first signed the National Water Initiative.

“The NWI is a landmark agreement that set in train the need to have sustainable limits on the use of our water resources, to improve the way we value the nation’s water resources and provide greater certainty for water users,” said Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment.

The National Water Commission commemorated the NWI‘s tenth birthday by releasing an e-book which highlights significant benefits that have flowed to individual water users, communities, industries and the environment.

The e-book is available online at:

For more information see:

Video to celebrate Australia’s first Ramsar site

Magpie Geese are dependant on wetlands in the Cobourg Peninsula. © Brian Furby

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the designation of the first Ramsar wetland site in the world – Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory.

In celebration of this occasion, the Department of the Environment, in partnership with the National Film and Sound Archives, has prepared a short video which showcases Cobourg’s rich environmental diversity and cultural significance. The video will join the travelling exhibition on Australia’s Ramsar sites as it continues around the country.

To view the video see:

For more information on the 40th Anniversary celebrations see:

You might also be interested in the August edition of the Wetlands Australia magazine, which highlights the important role of Ramsar wetlands in supporting water birds.


Water Recovery Strategy released

The Water Recovery Strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin was released on 2 June 2014.

The strategy details how the Australian Government will deliver on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on time and in full, with priority given to water saving infrastructure investments.

“Over the next four years, we will prioritise water recovery through infrastructure investment over purchases, with over $2.3 billion forecast to be spent on rural water use and infrastructure projects,” said Senator Simon Birmingham,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment.

For more information see

New website for the Bioregional Assessment Programme

The Australian Government recently launched a new website for the Bioregional Assessments Programme to better understand the potential impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments on water resources and water related assets.

At this time there are five technical products available to the public on this website. These are context statements for the Galilee, Gloucester and Namoi subregions, and the Clarence-Moreton bioregion.

The Bioregional Assessment programme will continue to roll out over the next two years, with technical products and other information (such as data registers and maps) released on the website as it becomes available.

The website can be viewed at:

Grants to support River Murray communities

Irrigation sprinklers in action. © John Baker

Irrigators along the South Australian River Murray will receive grants of more than $100 million for up to 100 irrigation and industry projects. Water savings generated will help deliver South Australian targets under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The projects range from irrigation infrastructure upgrades and crop conversions, to large commercial ventures.

The grants are being offered under Round One of the Australian Government’s $240 million South Australian River Murray Sustainability Industry Improvement Program.

For more information see

Reducing salinity levels in the Coorong

Murray River Estuary in the Coorong National Park. © Allen Fox

A project to reduce salinity levels in the Coorong and Lower Lakes in South Australia will see the wetlands returned to health with the help of $60 million of funding from the Australian and South Australian Governments.

Under the South East Flows Restoration Project a combination of watercourses and existing drains will be used to redirect freshwater into the Coorong South Lagoon.

The project will also improve conditions for native aquatic plants and animals through the restoration of habitats, the reintroduction of native fish and the construction of fish passages.

For more information see:

Environmental watering for the Hattah Lakes Ramsar site

The Regent Parrot is one of several species dependent on floodplain habitat at Hattah Lakes. © Brian Furby

The Hattah Lakes will receive 116 000 mega litres of environmental water over the next six months to support critical black box forest rejuvenation and improve wetland health.

Spanning an area of 13 000 hectares in north-west Victoria, the Hattah Lakes are home to more than 47 waterbird species and are listed as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The wetlands have not seen a natural watering event of this scale for over 20 years. It has been made possible through $32 million of works funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.

For more information see:

Up to 170 million litres of drinking water saved through stormwater harvesting project

In early June, construction began on a stormwater harvesting project in Murray Bridge, South Australia which could save up to 170 million litres of drinking water each year.

The project will harvest stormwater from the regional city of Murray Bridge for treatment via a constructed wetland. The treated stormwater will then be used to irrigate parks and sporting fields, improving the aesthetic and recreational facilities within the township.

The Australian Government has contributed more than $7 million to the project as part of its commitment to help major cities and towns secure water supplies through the $679 million National Urban Water and Desalination Plan.

For more information see

Speeches by the Parliamentary Secretary

Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment regularly delivers speeches about water use in Australia at conferences and events.

He recently addressed the National Irrigation Conference and had the pleasure of presenting the Consensus GreenTech Awards for 2013/14.

To view Senator Birmingham’s speeches, including transcripts of media interviews see:

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.