The Federal Government has announced $8.56 million in funding from the Urban Waterways Renewal project to assist in improving water quality of the Swan and Canning Rivers.

"These projects will refurbish existing drainage lines and restore natural drainage features to improve water quality and environmental flows," Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water Senator Don Farrell said.

The construction phase will include the realignment of stream banks and riffle construction to reduce water velocity.

The Dow Chemical Company and The University of Queensland have unveiled a strategic partnership that will establish the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.

Funded through a Dow contribution worth $10 million over the next six years, the newl Centre will pursue a program of research and collaboration aimed at harnessing solutions to the sustainability challenges of the 21st Century.

“This is a lighthouse initiative - hot-housing innovation at the urban energy, water and carbon nexus, which will attract international attention to the issues of sustainability and position Dow and UQ as leaders, achievers and contributors to society,” Dow Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris said.

A pilot trial of the membrane distillation process demonstrated treatment of industry wastewater producing high quality water using minimal electricity.  

The Victorian Government has announced the reappointment of Llew Vale as chairman of Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) for another two years.

The South Australian Government has announced the immediate suspension of water trading with New South Wales to South Australia until the end of March to protect the state’s entitlement flow.

 

The suspension comes after the Victorian Government cut trade for the remainder of the 2011-12 water year from NSW.

 

Minister for Water and the River Murray Paul Caica said the Victorian and NSW suspensions demonstrate that when it comes to Murray-Darling Basin water the upstream states will always act in their own self-interest without regard to its broader impacts within the Basin.

 

“The trade suspensions announced by Victoria and New South Wales have forced the South Australian Government to suspend water allocation trade from New South Wales into South Australia from the close of business March 23 to March 31 inclusive,’’ he said.

 

“The Government will honour all trades that have been already lodged for processing between NSW and South Australia.

 

“While making this limited suspension of trade is unfortunate, taking no action could jeopardise SA’s entitlement flow for the 2012-13 water year – potentially leading to a reduction in water allocations for consumptive users and the environment.

 

The National Water Commission (NWC) has launched its Groundwater Essentials publication, aimed at promoting a greater understanding of one of the country’s vital sources of fresh water.

The Federal Greens have continued their push to expand existing environmental flows for the Murray-Darling draft plan to 4,000GL, describing the current 2,750 GL in the draft as an inadequate measure to maintain the long term viability of the river system.

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\"Since the draft plan was released in November, the Greens have been the only party which has consistently stood up for South Australians to demand it be improved,\" Greens\' water spokesperson and South Australian Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

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\"All my fellow federal MPs from South Australia told a gathering in Canberra last week that they loved the Murray, but I don\'t hear them complaining about the reduced amount of 2,750 GL the draft plan will return to the environment.\"

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A new survey conducted for the Water Corporation’s Groundwater Replenishment Trial at Beenyup has found that three out of four people support moving to a full recycling scheme.

The National Water Commission has released three separate reports under its 2011 Assessment of the National Water Initiative, arguing for targeted investment in new knowledge and ongoing monitoring to support sustainable water management.

New technology developed by scientists at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has been sold to Australian clean-tech company, BioGill Environmental Pty Ltd, a manufacturing company based in Sydney.

The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications will conduct an inquiry into amendments to the National Water Commission Act 2004 that will continue the National Water Commission (NWC) as an independent statutory body beyond its current sunset date of 30 June 2012.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has been urged to review its draft basin plan following the breaking of drought conditions in much of the area.

The CEO of Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Desalination at Murdoch University Rockingham, Neil Palmer, has stated that desalination offers Australia the best water and food security insurance for the drier, more heavily populated decades ahead.

The Western Australian Government has announced a $2 million major upgrade of Kojonup’s water supply pipeline, with over two kilometres of pipe being replaced along the Albany Highway.

A delegation of Chilean officials has visited Australia to seek advice on water resource management best practice.

The Victorian Government has announced a temporary suspension of some of the state’s allocation trade in a bid to protect next season’s allocations to Victorian water entitlement holders.

Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh has announced that carryover rules for irrigators in northern Victoria will remain unchanged for the coming 2012-13 season.

University of Adelaide PhD researcher Adam Webster has won a 2012 Fulbright Scholarship to research possible legal solutions to the dispute over the allocation of water from the River Murray.

 

The Fulbright Scholarship is the largest educational scholarship of its kind, created in 1946 to promote mutual understanding with the United States through educational exchange.

 

Adam will use his Fulbright Scholarship to examine the outcomes of interstate water allocation disputes in the US to see whether the legal solutions developed there could help with the resolution of similar disputes in Australia.

 

"In particular, my research examines the dispute between the states of Australia over the allocation of water from the River Murray," Adam said.

 

"The issue of interstate water rights in Australia is an area of law that has received very little academic attention. Given that in recent years the states have had difficulty in reaching political agreement on how best to solve the problems associated with a shortage of water in the River Murray it is likely that these legal issues will receive greater attention in the future."

 

Under his Fulbright Scholarship, Adam will spend his time in the United States at the University of Arizona and the University of Colorado where he will examine the history of interstate disputes in the US regarding rights to water from rivers that flow through more than one state.

 

"In the US, courts have recognised the existence of an interstate water right. The question of whether there exists an interstate water right in Australia has never been put before a court," Adam said.

 

"The dispute over water from the River Murray is a uniquely Australian problem but there are many similarities between Australia and the United States which make for an ideal comparative study: both countries, for instance, have federal systems of government and in both countries water is at a premium in arid zones."

The Federal Government has proposed to extend the National Water Commission and its ‘ongoing provision of robust and transparent oversight of COAG water reform through the National Water Initiative.”

The Victorian Government has introduced legislation to wind back powers given to the state's water authorities.

 

The Water Amendments (Governance and Other Reforms) Bill 2012 will end the power of water corporations to sell a customer's land to pay outstanding water bills, and to call on a tenant pay their rent to the water corporation if a landlord hasn't paid their water bills.

 

The Bill also narrows water corporations' powers to require a property owner to connect to water and sewerage systems.

 

Under current law water authorities can force a landholder to connect to their water and sewerage network. The legislation under debate in Parliament will mean that water authorities only have the power to mandate connections to a sewerage system as is necessary to protect public health or the environment.

 

The legislation will also require water corporations and catchment management authorities to give property owners or tenants seven days notice before entering land. The exceptions to this are if the officer is reading meters, inspecting septic tank systems, responding to emergencies or crossing residential land to access and operate irrigation infrastructure.

Federal Water Minister Tony Burke has announced his department is working on providing vital funding to South Australian irrigators for key infrastructure upgrades.

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