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Mulcra Island floodplain project to commence soon

Construction will begin next month on a $6 million Brumby Labor Government infrastructure project that will deliver water to more than 500 hectares of drought stressed floodplain at Mulcra Island.

Mulcra Island floodplain project to commence soon

Environment Minister Gavin Jennings makes the announcement about the Mulcra Island works at nearby Wallpolla Island.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings said the project would help deliver water to more than 500 hectares of drought stressed floodplain at Mulcra Island in north-west Victoria.

“Strong communities need a healthy environment which is why the Brumby Labor Government is determined to provide projects such as this $6 million infrastructure project that will deliver real benefits to this region,” Mr Jennings said.

“Small amounts of environmental water have been delivered to Mulcra Island in the past, using temporary pumps and weir raising but this project will allow larger volumes to be delivered, resulting in more widespread benefits such as increased fish and bird breeding.

“The infrastructure project will also mean that following the flooding period, the majority of water on the floodplain will be returned to the Murray River and can be re-used downstream for other environmental benefits.

“By putting this infrastructure in place, more is able to be achieved with less water.”

Mr Jennings said the infrastructure will help restore a more natural flooding regime to the island, similar in frequency and duration to that which occurred before river regulation.

“Restoring a more natural flooding regime to Mulcra Island will restore life to the floodplain, protect ancient river red gums and provide important habitat for waterbirds, frogs, fish and turtles,” he said.

“Importantly, this project will enable us to manage the health of this important site into the future, in the face of ongoing drought and climate change.”

The project is part of The Living Murray program, which has initiated the largest environmental works program of its kind in Australia.

“We are working in partnership with the community, the Commonwealth as well as other states and the ACT to fund The Living Murray initiative in an effort to address the impacts of drought and climate change,” Mr Jennings said.

The project, which includes the installation of a series of environmental regulators, introduces a very targeted and efficient way to deliver environmental water.

Mr Jennings said the infrastructure has been designed for operation under a range of water availability scenarios and flow conditions.

“When there is only a small amount of environmental water available, the infrastructure will enable increased flow within the Potterwalkagee Creek, improving connectivity with the Murray River and increasing the area of habitat for fish and waterbirds, and helping to control the expansion of cumbungi - an invasive native wetland plant,” he said.

“When a greater amount of environmental water is available, the structures will be operated to mimic a large flood, inundating and providing benefits to over 800 hectares of floodplain, including 250 hectares on the NSW side of the river.

“The flooding phase would generally occur during winter and spring to mimic natural conditions, complemented by a drying phase during summer.”

Tenders are currently being assessed for construction of the works. The project is expected to be completed by October.

The project has been developed by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority in partnership with the Department of Sustainability and Environment, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Parks Victoria, SA Water, Indigenous Traditional Owners and the local community.

Mulcra Island is part of the Chowilla –Lindsay Wallpolla Living Murray Icon Site, and will soon be part of the extended Murray-Sunset National Park.

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