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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22482

Securing Australia's water future by investing in better information and science

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 21/09/2006

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 22482

I am pleased to announce 11 projects that will improve water management across Australia through better information and science.

These 11 projects involve Australian Government funding of $21 million to support total investments of $34 million.

The centrepiece of today's announcement is an investment of $27 million to improve our understanding of Australia's tropical northern rivers and coastal environments. These rivers are located from the tip of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland to Cape Leveque in Western Australia.

The project is to be led by the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research hub and will be supported by $16 million from the Commonwealth Government and $11 million from the Tropical Rivers Coastal Knowledge partnership (which includes Griffith University, Charles Darwin University and University of WA).

The project will provide valuable information to enhance our knowledge and understanding of our northern rivers ecology. It will ensure that governments, indigenous communities, industry and others have the information necessary for the sustainable management, water planning and development of the region.

Further Australian Government funding of $4 million will be provided for two groundwater projects delivering on the Australian Government's election commitment to bolster confidence in the sustainable use of groundwater resources through strategic groundwater assessments. Some $1.75 million of this will be used to carry out strategic assessment and management of groundwater systems. As a result priority groundwater areas will be identified, more resources will be provided, and action taken to improve management and monitoring of our groundwater systems.

Other projects announced today include improving in-field verification of irrigation meter accuracy, exploring water entitlements resulting from new water products, best practice water planning practices, water recycling via managed aquifer recharge, mapping surface water and groundwater connectivity across Australia and urban water reform, including the development of Water Sensitive Australian Cities.

The 11 projects address three critical areas of water reform:

advancing the implementation of the National Water Initiative improving integrated water management improving knowledge of Australia's water resources

Today's announcement builds on six projects announced in June. A total of 17 projects funded to date under the Australian Government's Raising National Water Standards programme. They represent a total investment of $27 million ($14.02 million from the Raising National Water Standards Programme) and involve investments of more than $42 million. They will make a significant contribution to the National Water Initiative and to improving Australia's water management capability.

A summary of the commissioned projects announced today is attached. Further information on the Raising National Water Standards Programme is available from the National Water Commission website at


Enhancing knowledge and understanding of river ecology and water-dependent ecosystems, including access to traditional knowledge in Australia's north

This project will enhance knowledge and capacity to underpin water planning in the north for both surface water and groundwater systems, taking into account environmental, cultural and economic factors. The National Water Commission's involvement as a partner and investor in the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRACK) research hub will support the achievement of Northern Australia water management objectives in the National Water Initiative. This will be particularly relevant to water planning and the adaptive management of northern water systems in order to meet productive, environmental and public benefit outcomes. The Australian Government is contributing in total $16 million with $5 million to be provided from the Raising National Water Standards Programme. This is in addition to $8 million provided to TRACK under the Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities Programme managed by the Department of Environment and Heritage and $3 million from Land and Water Australia's Tropical Rivers Program. A further $11 million will be contributed by other TRACK partners.

Strategic assessment and management of priority groundwater catchments

Funding of $1.75 million will be used to help states and territories carry out strategic assessment and management of priority groundwater systems. Assistance will be through additional monitoring programmes, metering, modelling, yield estimation or funding to implement management strategies.

Mapping potential surface water and groundwater connectivity across Australia

Funding of $500 000 (from the RNWS) will be provided to carry out catchment scale screening to determine potential connectivity of surface and groundwater systems across Australia. The desk top study will use a connectivity index model to determine the level of connectivity along river reaches within surface water catchments. The project will provide water managers with a visual indication of the areas of potentially high connectivity within catchments, allowing them to better allocate resources to these areas. The project will link to the Australian Water Resources 2005 project by identifying areas for more detailed monitoring. An additional $2 million will be provided through in-kind support from the Australian Government.

Improving in-field verification of non-urban water meter accuracy

Funding of $300 000 will be provided to develop the techniques and tools for in-field, verification of non-urban water meters. This will assist with the implementation of metering standards currently under development. It is currently very difficult to verify and maintain accuracy of meters installed in the field. This project will support National Water Initiative commitments to improve metering and measurement. It will also improve understanding of the accuracy of non-urban water meters in field application and help to influence meter design, installation and performance accuracy.

Reviewing institutional and regulatory arrangements and preparing best practice guidelines for achieving integrated urban water cycle planning and management

Funding of $200 000 will be provided for the review committed to under the National Water Initiative. The review of the institutional and regulatory models for achieving integrated urban water cycle planning and management will be followed by preparation of best practice guidelines. The guidelines will facilitate integrated urban water cycle management and planning.

Establishment of a surface water sustainability expert group

Funding of $180 000 will be provided to establish a water sustainability expert group to advise on sustainable levels of extraction and river health monitoring and assessment. Surface water ecology experts, including through the National Water Commission expert panel, will be invited to join the group on the basis of their knowledge and experience in environmental flow research and management.

Water planning practices and lessons learned

Funding of $175 00 will be provided to develop case studies that look at water systems in the context of different state and territory water planning processes. This will cover water for consumptive use and to meet environmental objectives. The case studies will also highlight situations where water planning processes may not be in line with commitments under the National Water Initiative. The project will provide a discussion paper that looks at key lessons learned and provides guidance on best practice water planning.

New water entitlements

Funding of $100 000 will be provided to explore features required or need to be defined to provide title to "new" water products, such as stormwater and irrigation return flows, emerging from the development of water markets. The project will seek to more clearly define existing entitlements and carry out preliminary investigations into the implications of these new water entitlements being introduced into the water market.

Irrigation Farm Water Use Management: Scoping Work for Data Collection

A total of $100 000 will be provided to investigate the viability of national collection and analysis of data on the on-farm use and management of water. The study will guide the future collection of data relating to water used for irrigated agriculture on-farm. Once collected, data would be able to inform policy and programme development at all levels of government. It would also provide a base-line to investigate trends in irrigation farm water use and a data resource for research and development in relation to the irrigation sector.

Guidelines for evaluating options for water sensitive urban developments

Funding of $100 000 will be provided to develop guidelines to compare development proposals and assess the likelihood of success in achieving water sensitive urban development. The guidelines will be applicable to all Australian jurisdictions for new urban sub-divisions and high rise buildings.

Water recycling via managed aquifer recharge

Funding of $63 000 will be provided to develop a separate module of the National Guidelines for Water Recycling, addressing water recycling via managed aquifer recharge (MAR). It will advance key National Water Initiative urban reform outcomes, particularly relating to providing healthy, safe and reliable water supplies, encouraging the re-use and recycling of wastewater where cost effective and encouraging innovation in water supply sourcing, treatment, storage and discharge. The guidelines will complement the existing National Water Quality Management Strategy Guidelines for Groundwater Protection.

Transcript 22482