SA Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter visited the Blackford Drain South East Flows Restoration Project December 8.
Landholders, staff from the NRM Board, Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin MP and the South East Drainage and Conservation Board also joined the minister at the project site.
Minister Hunter said: “Without the landholders being so involved in the planning and organisation of it we wouldn’t have had the outcome we’ve got, it would have been a third rate outcome.
“With the support and the permission of the landholders over winter when there is a lot of water, store that water rather than pushing it out into the ocean. We can use it when we really need it over the summer months.”
Construction continues to progress on the $60 million South East Flows Restoration Project (SEFRP) to reduce salinity in the Coorong, improve water flows to upper South East wetlands and reduce drainage outfall at Kingston SE.
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston along with Minister Hunter said that South Australia’s Leed Engineering and Construction were making great progress on the 94 kilometre flow path that will connect flows from the Blackford Drain near Kingston to the Coorong South Lagoon at Salt Creek.
“The Australian Government is contributing up to $123.3 million for 23 management actions to support the restoration and ongoing resilience of the internationally important Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth site,” Minister Ruston said.
“The Australian Government is providing up to $54 million of that funding for the South East Flows Restoration Project to assist in management of salinity levels in the Coorong lagoons.
“The Australian Government is proud to be supporting this project which will strengthen the resilience of the Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Wetland Ramsar site.
“I am very pleased to see construction progressing and the economic benefits this project is bringing to the region with over 55 new jobs created onsite.”
Minister Hunter said the project includes 13 kilometres of new drainage channel, upgrading 81 kilometres of existing channel, and installation of new regulators, road crossings, and fishways.
“The project has been 10 years in the planning and will deliver a median of 26.5 giglitres per year of additional water to the Coorong South Lagoon to assist in managing salinity and support the environment during periods of low flows,” Minister Hunter said.
“The project will divert water to wetlands along the entire alignment including the Murrabinna Flat and Taratap Wetlands, and most significantly Tilley Swamp.
“Tilley Swamp will be restored to form a wetland complex covering 6100 hectares with a volume of 42 giglitres.
“The large storage capacity will allow flexibility to store water in Tilley Swamp when flows are high and deliver it to the Coorong South Lagoon during low flows.
“Filling these wetlands will provide great ecological benefits to the region. As water is re-introduced, wetland vegetation will again flourish and the previous ecosystem of birds, fish, and aquatic vegetation will be restored.
“The SA Government continues to consult with landholders, local indigenous groups and the local community throughout the project.”
Member for Barker, Tony Pasin MP, who represented Minister Ruston at the Blackford construction site said he was pleased with the final alignment with the drainage channel.
“I am pleased that the views of the community regarding the alignment of the drainage channel to enable storage of water in the Tilley Swamp water course have been facilitated in this project” Mr Pasin said.
The project is funded by the Australian and the South Australian governments and is being delivered by the SA Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Construction is being managed by the SA Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.
Works started in March 2017 and are expected to be completed by mid-2018.