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Infrastructure to benefit environment and irrigators

The Victorian Coalition Government will invest $320,000 to construct a new regulator at Kings Billabong near Mildura to deliver benefits for both the environment and local irrigators.

Infrastructure to benefit environment and irrigators

Mallee CMA's Louise Searle explains the project in more detail to Minister for Water Peter Walsh and attendees at the launch overlooking Kings Billabong.

Minister for Water Peter Walsh made the announcement while visiting Kings Billabong today with The Nationals Member for Mildura Peter Crisp.

Mr Walsh said the construction of the environmental regulator would help improve water quality and fish populations in the billabong and improve irrigators’ access to water.
“This project is a great example of how infrastructure can deliver mutual benefits to both the environment and irrigators,” Mr Walsh said.

“Across the Murray-Darling Basin these kinds of projects should be investigated as an alternative to the sustainable diversion limits proposed by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

“The Victorian Coalition Government will continue to encourage the Commonwealth to invest in infrastructure projects which deliver targeted and measurable environmental outcomes.”

Mr Walsh said the regulator would be built across the Psyche Channel which flows into Kings Billabong, downstream of Lower Murray Water’s central pump station.

“The regulator will be used during the off-season when demand for irrigation water is low to manage flows into the wetland,” Mr Walsh said.

“By managing the amount of water entering the billabong it will be possible to restore a more beneficial wetting and drying cycle to help improve water quality and the health of the plants and animals that rely on the wetland.”

Mr Walsh said construction of the regulator would not restrict irrigators’ access to water in any way and normal water supply would be available to Lower Murray Water customers.

The regulator will also deliver the additional benefit of allowing pumping to bypass Kings Billabong in the event of water quality issues, which would impact on those who pump for stock and domestic supply or irrigation.

The project is being co-ordinated by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), in partnership with Lower Murray Water and Parks Victoria.

Construction of the regulator is expected to begin in coming months and will be completed by July 2011.
Mallee CMA chair Joan Burns said reintroducing variations in the water levels at Kings Billabong would deliver an overall improvement to the health of the wetland.

“The improvement will be seen through increases in the numbers of native fish, waterbirds, and frogs,” Ms Burns said.

“Carp screens will be fitted to the regulator to manage the carp population and protect the resident population of catfish in Kings Billabong.”

The Friends of Kings Billabong and Sunraysia Bird Observers, along with other community members, have been involved in collecting data on bird populations, macro invertebrates and water quality at Kings Billabong.

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