'Historic' Murray-Darling legislation passes Parliament
Legislation that locks in the additional 450 gigalitres of environmental flow for the Murray-Darling Basin has passed the Lower House, meaning that the $1.77 billion in additional funding is set to flow through to the river.
Federal Water Minister, Tony Burke, said the passage of the Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill, marks a key milestone of the Government's plan to restore the river system to health.
“Late last year the Gillard Government ended a century long argument on how best to manage our rivers and delivered a Murray-Darling Basin Plan that restores our rivers to health, supports strong regional communities and ensures sustainable food production,’’ he said.
“The Murray-Darling Basin Authority set a benchmark of 2750GL of environmental water in the Basin."
But with the passage of the Bill, the environmental flow will now exceed 3200GL, with the extra 450GL being sourced through a relaxation of key operating constraints and improved water infrastructure to be footed by the $1.77 billion in extra funding.
It also will address existing constraints that limit higher water flows, including outflows from storage dams, low-lying infrastructure, and the need to provide for flood easements or agreements with landholders.
Mr Burke stressed that any water obtained using the funds in the special account must be obtained through projects that ensure no social or economic downside for communities.