Works have begun on 10 priority wetland sites with the aim of improving the River Murray’s riverine health.
Fulton Hogan have been awarded the contract for works at the sites, which cover a total of 6,974 hectares of floodplain spanning 440 kilometres of the River Murray.
The works will reintroduce more natural wetting and drying patterns at each wetland through decommissioning out-of-date structures and installing regulators and culverts.
The project, known as Wetlands Phase 2, will also improve wetland water quality, provide access for fish and boost native vegetation growth and populations of fish, frogs and birds.
Wetlands Phase 2 forms part of the $98 million Riverine Recovery Project (RRP) funded by the Australian and South Australian governments, implemented by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources in partnership with SA Water.
The 10 wetland priority sites and works include:
- Murtho-Wiela - decommissioning existing structures and installing two box culverts and constructing a ford crossing.
- Woolenook Bend - removing a causeway that is currently restricting flow, reinstating the natural bank at Fisherman’s Cutting and creek works to ensure the creek connection during weir pool raising.
- Paringa Paddock - installing a box culvert to improve flow across the floodplain which with weir pool manipulation will help restore the floodplain vegetation.
- Pyap Horseshoe - dredging, installing box culverts, replacing current flow-restricting wetland crossings with a regulator, removing a shallow levee in northern section of the wetland and excavate silted north-western connection of the wetland to the main river channel.
- Sugar Shack Complex - constructing four new regulators, creek connection works, upgrading track crossings with culverts and removing rock banks across the creeks.
- Silverlea Wetland - constructing two new regulators.
- Big Bend - constructing two new regulators.
- North Caurnamont - constructing a new regulator and improve the connection of the wetland to the main river channel.
- Teal Flat Hut - constructing two new regulators.
- Teal Flat - constructing two new regulators.
The Riverine Recovery Project aims to improve the health of the River Murray and its wetlands and floodplains from the South Australian border to Wellington.
South Australia has agreed to transfer 0.65 giglitres of evaporative savings from Wetlands Phase 2 to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
SA Water is the constructing authority for large projects on the River Murray.
The State Government’s Industry Participation Plan will see Fulton Hogan engage local suppliers and contractors where appropriate, and support local Aboriginal employment outcomes.
On-ground works began this month and are expected to be completed by late 2018.
Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston
The Australian Government has committed up to $89 million through the Riverine Recovery Project to improve the management of wetlands, floodplains and weir pools along the River Murray in South Australia.
Work at the 10 priority sites under this phase of the project will help restore vital hydrological and ecological functions at the wetlands and associated water courses.
This work continues the successful partnership between the Commonwealth and South Australian governments under the Riverine Recovery Project in achieving significant environmental outcomes along the River Murray in South Australia consistent with the objectives of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
The 10 priority sites build on the achievements of the first phase of the Riverine Recovery Project, which is already delivering more environmental water more efficiently, as well as improving biodiversity and ecosystem resilience.
Quotes attributable to River Murray and Water Minister Ian Hunter
Improving the flows at these 10 priority River Murray wetland sites will support the delivery of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by providing better water quality to contribute to the growth of native vegetation and healthy wildlife populations.
The mix of wetland sites and works will achieve a mosaic of managed wetlands and fill a number of gaps to ensure diversity of healthy wetlands with natural flow-through connections.
Many fauna species will benefit from the works such as fish and frogs including the southern bell frog, as well as a multitude of resident and migratory birds that depend on healthy wetlands.
Also these works will complement existing weir pool manipulation and other floodplain projects currently under way and completed at the Chowilla, Pike and Katarapko floodplains to fully benefit the local riverine environment.