Murray-Darling Basin Commission - December 2005, E-letter No 49
How the MDBC performed in 2004-05
The Murray-Darling Basin Commission Annual Report for 2004-05 has been tabled in the Australian
Parliament and is now available online in a new html "dynamic' version.
The report also will be tabled in the parliaments of each jurisdiction through the Murray-Darling Basin
Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council).
The online version contains all the information found in the hard copy version , but allows visitors to
the site to navigate all its chapters. It is fully searchable and also allows visitors to download a
complete version in PDF form.
This report describes the objectives and significant achievements of the MDBC during the 2004-05
It also incorporates the annual report of the Ministerial Council's Community Advisory Committee, the
primary community body advising the Ministerial Council on natural resources management issues in
MDBC end-of-valley targets signal major step in salinity fight
The recent adoption of the Victorian End-of-Valley Salinity Targets by the Murray-Darling Basin
Ministerial Council is a major step forward in the progress towards managing salinity within the
According to Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) Chief Executive Dr Wendy Craik, this means
that salinity targets are now in place for most of the tributary rivers in each of the Basin States.
New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia finalised their targets in 2004. (Targets remain
interim for the Australian Capital Territory, and the Kiewa, Ovens and Wimmera Rivers).
Dr Craik said this key milestone for the Murray-Darling Basin Salinity Management Strategy 2001-
2015 (BSMS) was reached at the recent meeting of the Ministerial Council in Brisbane, with Victoria
submitting its End-of-Valley Salinity Targets.
"The End-of-Valley salinity targets are a key feature of the BSMS and effectively provide a "Cap" on
increasing salt loads from each tributary valley," Dr Craik said.
"An interim set of end-of-valley targets for stream salinity and salt loads was developed by the partner
Governments, and these were considered by catchment communities during the public comment
period for the draft BSMS in 2000/2001.
"The salinity targets are an important means to prioritise within-valley catchment actions such as
improved farming systems and targeted vegetation management," she said.
MDBC Salinity Manager Matt Kendall said the within-valley actions together with downstream actions,
such as salt interception schemes and dilution flows, were also expected to contribute to meeting the
Basin target at Morgan in South Australia.
"The Basin target is to maintain the salinity at Morgan at less than 800 EC for 95 per cent of the time.
Morgan is located upstream of the major pipeline off-takes for Adelaide's water supply and 800 EC is
the Australian limit for good quality drinking water," Mr Kendall said.
"The targets in themselves do not represent the full range of outcomes sought, but are a way of
measuring progress towards achieving the Strategy's objectives. While the targets need to be
adaptive and flexible, they will only be changed where there is adequate justification, and with the
agreement of the Ministerial Council," he said.
"This will provide certainty and integrity for the strategy and will ensure that efforts are directed to
finding creative and innovative ways to meet the targets. A network of continuous flow and salinity
monitoring sites has been established which collect data to agreed standards and will be regularly
reviewed, to assist in the complex process of assessing progress towards meeting the end-of-valley
The design and delivery of outcomes from individual catchment plans will be essential to achieve the
End-of-Valley Targets. Mr Kendall said that to assess the effects of various options and work through
the trade-offs, predictive tools that can assess the effects of catchment actions such as land use on
river flow and salinity will be required.
MDBC-DAFF land use maps now online
The Murray-Darling Basin Regional Land Use Mapping for 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2000 can now be
downloaded from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry home page.
The regional land use mapping is a collaborative project between the Murray-Darling Basin
Commission (MDBC) and the Bureau of Rural Sciences which has produced a time series of regional
scale land use maps.
The MDBC's Basin Salinity Management Strategy 2001-2015 (BSMS) requires information on
baseline conditions across the Basin. This project has helped define baseline land use conditions at
1 January 2000 (Year 2000 map) and has provided an understanding of the variability in baseline
conditions over the 25 year benchmark period 1975 - 2000.
These land use maps are created using SPREAD II, a modelling program that spatially interpolates
Australian Bureau of Statistics agricultural commodity data using Advanced Very High Resolution
Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite imagery. AVHRR imagery has a resolution of 1.1 km, hence the
Dartmouth first dam to win coveted Senator Collings Trophy
The team managing the Dartmouth Dam has become the first dam team to win the coveted Senator
Collings Trophy for 2004-05.
All winners in the 52 years of the award's history have been for a lock or weir in the River Murray
system, although the major dams only became eligible for the award in 2002.
The award honours the best performing team managing River Murray Water storages from the
Barrages near the Murray Mouth in South Australia to Dartmouth Dam, including Lake Victoria and
The award criteria cover appearance, standard of maintenance and maintenance documentation,
dam safety documentation and ability to complete the year's schedule of works at or under budget.
Murray-Darling Basin Commission President Ian Sinclair AC presented the award to Peter Liepkalns
on behalf of the Dartmouth team.
He commended them on their commitment to safety, their standard of work across all areas of
running the dam and, in particular, for their innovative approach to solving maintenance issues such
as replacement of the Low Level Outlet Works re-filling valve.
In response, Peter highlighted the contribution of numerous people and noted how many of them had
links with the River Murray going back two or three generations, well before the construction of
Dartmouth Dam. For more information go to the website at
Waterbirds flock to newly watered Hattah Lakes
Thousands of waterbirds are flocking to the Hattah Lakes near Ouyen in Victoria as the latest
environmental watering trial continues.
This financial year, around 3000 megalitres of water from the Murray River is being pumped into
Lakes Lockie, Little Hattah and Yerang.
Hattah Lakes is one of six Significant Ecological Assets identified in the Murray- Darling Basin
Commission's Living Murray initiative.
The water has been provided from the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment's
Environmental Water allocation to benefit flora and fauna and address River Redgum health.
The trial builds on the emergency redgum watering program of the last financial year during which
1200ML of water, including 369ML of donated irrigation water, was delivered to the southern arm of
Chalka Creek, which feeds the Hattah Lakes system.
Funding for the trial has been provided under the Victorian and Australian Government's National
Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP), the State Government's Our Water Our Future
initiative and Rural Water Reform package and the State and Federal Government's emergency
redgum watering package.
Most of the money will pay for pumping with local contractors employed to deliver the water. Pumping
recommenced in mid-September and the 3000ML is expected to be delivered by mid November.
Mallee CMA Environmental Watering Officer for Hattah Andy Wise said Hattah Kulkyne National Park
rangers had reported there were around 25 species of waterbirds now present on Lake Lockie
including up to 5000 Grey Teal.
The large, water-stressed River Redgums around Lake Lockie are also getting their feet wet for the
first time in three years providing a tremendous boost to their health.
Hume water releases increased
In response to increased irrigation demand, River Murray Water (RMW) has steadily increased water
releases from Hume Dam, RMW General Manager Mr David Dreverman announced in his latest
Weekly Report of operations.
Releases in late November were running at about 16 000 ML/day. However the majority of the water
being released from Hume Dam was from the Barmah-Millewa Environmental Water Account (B-M
EWA) to help waterbird breeding, fish spawning and watering floodplain vegetation throughout the
Barmah-Millewa Forest wetlands.
Mr Dreverman said that since early October, about 320 GL of the B-M EWA had been released from
Hume Dam which, in conjunction with several natural higher inflow events from the Ovens and Kiewa
Rivers, had resulted in the most extensive flooding of the forest for five years (over 50% of the forest
area has been flooded).
"Following the advice of NSW and Victorian natural resource agencies, the release of the B-M EWA is
now gradually being reduced with a target flow of about 15 000 ML/day downstream of Yarrawonga
Weir by 24 November.
"Further gradual reductions in the release from Yarrawonga are planned for December, however flow
rates over the coming weeks will be depend on weather conditions, the volume of water remaining in
the B-M EWA and the nature of the ecological responses occurring within the forest," Mr Dreverman
Together with the natural higher inflow events from the Victorian tributaries, the release of the B-M
EWA has also boosted flow levels along the length of the River Murray providing "supplementary"
water for irrigators and additional water to downstream wetland systems.
Young Rural Leaders' course now open
Applications are now open for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's (DAFF) 2006
The Industry Partnerships - Young Rural Leaders' Course to be held in Canberra in March 2006.
The course offers young rural people (aged from 18-35) an opportunity to benefit their industries by
learning the skills needed to work with industry and government at the national level.
Organisers say the four and a half day course will give participants a greater understanding of the
complexities of rural Australia and build their skills and confidence.
It will improve young people's capacity to contribute to policy and program development.
The course will give the successful participants an opportunity to:
gain an understanding of how government and industry work;
network with peers from around the country;
build a list of government and industry contacts;
discuss important issues;
discuss the hot issues on the national policy agenda;
ensure their input to government and/or industry decision-making can be
learn and refine the skills required for effective leadership;
begin managing change; and
develop a strategic plan for their own development.
During the course, participants will meet Australian Government ministers, representatives from peak
industry organisations and research and development corporations and senior staff from the
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Costs associated with travel, accommodation, meals and course materials are included in the course.
Applications are open to 18-35 year olds working in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, natural resource
management, food or related industries.
Applications close Friday, 16 December 2005.
Have your say in managing the Murrumbidgee's natural resources
The Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority is calling for formal submissions on the
Murrumbidgee Catchment Action Plan.
The Murrumbidgee Catchment Action Plan is a 10 year plan to manage the natural resources of the
Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority Chair and local farmer, Mr Lee O'Brien said, "The
Draft Murrumbidgee Catchment Action Plan has been developed building on the Murrumbidgee
Catchment Blueprint. Community, agency and local government focus groups across the region have
assisted us in developing this Draft"
This Catchment Action Plan will set direction for our projects, incentives and other activities including
targets for healthy land, water, vegetation and the local community."
Copies of the draft Murrumbidgee Catchment Action Plan are available during office hours at the
Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority Head Office
Level 1, 43-45 Johnston Street, Wagga Wagga.
Catchment Management Authority Offices in Coleambally, Cooma, Cootamundra, Harden,
Hay, Henty, Junee, Leeton, Queanbeyan, Tumut and Yass.
Local and State Government Offices in the Murrumbidgee Catchment.
The draft Plan can also be obtained from the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority's
Public submissions are invited on the Plan in writing or by email by the close of business on the 19th
of December 2005 to:
Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority
PO Box 5224
WAGGA WAGGA NSW 2650
The Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority will consider all submissions in the finalisation
of the Plan.
For further information phone the Authority on 02 6923 0470.
NSW Native Vegetation Act comes into effect
The Native Vegetation Act 2003, which aims to end broadscale land clearing in NSW while providing
long-term certainty for farmers, came into effect on December 1.
The Native Vegetation Act 2003 sets a framework for:
ending broadscale clearing unless it improves or maintains environmental outcomes
encouraging revegetation and rehabilitation of land with native vegetation, and
rewarding farmers for good land management.
Catchment Management Authorities have been established to administer the new system, which is
based on voluntary agreements between landholders and CMAs called Property Vegetation Plans
It is the most comprehensive and practically focussed system available in Australia and has the
potential to lead to a revolution in the way we manage native vegetation across NSW.
Biomass for Energy, the Environment and Society
That's the theme for Australia's premier bioenergy conference, Bioenergy Australia 2005, to be held in
Melbourne on 12 - 13 December
Also included is a conference tour on 14 December taking participants to the site of a
biodiesel/synthetic diesel from waste facility and a cement works where waste and biofuels form part
of the fuel mix.
Organisers say the conference includes the cooperation of an alliance of some 50 government and
private sector organisations with an interest in the development of sustainable energy and products
The conference will bring together biomass feedstock producers and suppliers, waste management
organisations, project developers, energy companies, equipment suppliers, investors, government
agencies, research and research funding bodies to address factors crucial to the development of
bioenergy in Australia.
This year's conference is being coupled to an International Energy Agency Bioenergy Task meeting
on "Energy from integrated solid waste management systems." Several international experts will give
presentations at the conference, including the keynote address.
The conference program will cover policies and programs, bioenergy projects and project
development case studies, bioelectricity, liquid fuels, gasification and pyrolysis and their applications,
anaerobic digestion, energy from waste, plus overarching aspects such as green house gas
emissions and life cycle analyses of bioenergy systems.
The program will also include an extended panel discussion, facilitated by Professor Ralph Sims of
Massey University, New Zealand on boosting the role of bioenergy in our future economy.
The Hon. John Thwaites, Victorian Minister for the Environment, has been invited to provide the
official opening of the conference.
Keynote speaker is Dr Juergen Vehlow, Institute for Technical Chemistry, Karlsruhr, Germany. The
conference dinner speaker will be Rob Jolly of Greenworld Energy and a former Victorian Treasurer.
Local land managers to receive $2.2 million
62 land managers across the Western Catchment in north western New South Wales will share $2.2
million for on-ground works and training to improve natural resources through the Western CMA's first
round of incentive funding.
The recipients represent the successful applications in the CMA's first round of incentive funding ,
Round 1 which closed in September. Another 19 applicants have been placed on an eligibility list.
Successful projects include:
$859,360 committed to 25 applicants for native pasture recovery;
$403,180 committed to 13 applicants for riverine habitat improvements;
$383,500 awarded to 11 land managers for pest management;
$273,422 committed to nine applicants to manage high value ecological communities;
$125,413 was committed to seven applicants to encourage sustainable agriculture;
$156,839 was committed to undertake works to improve water quality.
Another $1.3 million of National Action Plan funding was unable to be provided as there were
insufficient applications from the area earmarked for that funding: the north-east of the Catchment and
along the Barwon-Darling.
Another round of funding is scheduled for Autumn 2006. Individuals, groups and organisations in the
Western Catchment can apply.
Projects must be targeted at land within the Western Catchment boundary. Joint projects with
neighbouring Catchment Management Authorities that operate across regional boundaries are
New monitoring bores help check Mallee dryland salinity
A new drilling program in the Mallee will provide a more accurate picture of groundwater trends to
help manage salinity.
Mallee Catchment Management Authority Natural Resources Project Officer Sarah Whitfield says the
program had been identified as necessary after a technical review of groundwater information in the
Mallee revealed some areas were not being adequately monitored.
"Monitoring bores have been progressively installed in the Mallee and the data has been invaluable in
determining groundwater trends in some areas."
Ms Whitfield said the Mallee CMA had recently obtained funding from the Victorian and Federal
Government's National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality to install the additional monitoring
"Installation of these bores will lead to a better understanding of geology, hydrogeology and
determination of groundwater trends that will enable more accurate predictions on the rate of increase
of salted land.
"Information gathered from the ongoing monitoring of the bores will include groundwater levels,
groundwater quality, flow patterns for vertical and regional inflows and salinity risks in these areas,"
Ms Whitfield said Watson Drilling had been contracted by the Mallee CMA to undertake the drilling
GWMWater will manage the project with technical input provided through environmental consultant's
Sinclair Knight Mertz.
"Over the next six months, drilling of two deep bores and 36 shallow bores will occur across the
Mallee from west of Swan Hill through to Meringur and Murrayville, and south to Beulah West."
For more information contact Sarah Whitfield, NRM Project Coordinator on (03) 50514 377 or John
Tottenham, Headworks Engineer at GWMWater on (03) 5362 0200.