Government announces new river funding
The Federal Government will provide $155 million for major projects aimed at restoring the health of the wetlands in the South Australian Murray region.
Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said that the funding will be aimed at restoring the health of the wetlands at Pike and Katarapko in the Riverland.
South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, welcomed the announcement.
"Today I welcome the commitment from the Commonwealth of up to $155 million for environmental infrastructure in the Riverland," Mr Weatherill said.
"The Basin Plan now allows for 450 gigalitres more than initially proposed to be recovered for the environment - with enormous benefit for the river.
Under the program, regulators will be installed at the priority South Australian Murray wetland sites at the Pike and Katarapko floodplains near Berri.
Mr Burke said restoring more natural cycles of inundation at the Pike and Katarapko floodplains would help improve the health and resilience of the floodplain ecosystems, which include nationally significant species, such as the Regent Parrot and Southern Bell Frog.
"These species rely on a healthy ecosystem to survive. The wetlands also act as a natural filtration system for parts of the river, improving water quality downstream," he said.
The new program will include: the upgrade, installation and replacement of banks and regulating structures on the backwaters of the system, completion of the Pike Salt Interception Scheme and management of floodplain groundwater.
The project's funding, subject to due diligence assessment, includes $100 million in new funding from 2016-17 and $55 million from South Australia's existing funding commitment from the Commonwealth for State Priority Projects.