Ecologically important sites in the South Australian Riverland will benefit from increased investment through the Australian Government’s Murray-Darling Communities Investment Package because of the environmental benefits they can provide to the lower Murray.
Australia’s Natural Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister, Keith Pitt said the Sustaining Riverland Environments Program was a $37.6 million investment in practical projects to improve river and wetland health and support native fish in line with Basin Plan objectives.
Minister Pitt acknowledged that there have been delays in delivering against the 450 gigalitres target for downstream river health, and that it is timely to invest in river health projects to mitigate some of those delays.
“Basin governments are pushing forward with recovery of the 450 gigalitres but I recognise recovery is slower than anticipated. I don’t want to see river health go backwards and it’s good to see progress on 150 gigalitres of projects,” Minister Pitt said.
Minister for Families and Social Services and South Australian Senator Anne Ruston said this program would deliver benefits beyond the river and restore natural river patterns.
“By connecting wetlands we can help fish movement, enhance breeding and create new fish habitats,” Minister Ruston said.
“As a priority, river infrastructure and operational upgrades will be made in the Lock 3 reach which controls 85 kms of River Murray and connects many significant water bodies, including Lake Bonney, the Ramsar listed Banrock Station and Wachtels Lagoon.
“We will support the development of a South Australian-specific native fish fund to grow the population of iconic species such as Murray Cod and Golden Perch.”
South Australian Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said Sustaining Riverland Environments Program would provide the river health outcomes that needed to be achieved while work was progressing to deliver the full 450GL of water.
“This program has the potential to provide the sort of win-win South Australians see in the Basin Plan – a healthier river system, stronger communities, better recreation and profitable industries,” Minister Speirs said.
“It is absolutely vital for South Australia that we see the full 450GL of environmental water and thankfully we’ve seen significant progress on as much as 150GL worth of projects.
“This new program will provide on-going environmental benefits and also stimulate the Riverland region creating jobs for our local communities.”