Water Level Gauge

The South Australian Government is funding dewatering pumps and relevant operating costs as part of a program to re-establish the levee network along the River Murray, with dewatering of impacted agricultural flats from the recent flood event now underway.

The State Government is working with landholders within the Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA) and the South Australian Dairyfarmers Association (SADA) to implement a coordinated approach to short-term levee repairs and dewatering of agricultural land impacted by the recent flood event.

With flood waters still receding and the unknown nature of levee stabilisation works that may be required – a requirement for dewatering to take place – it is too early to determine the timeframe for completion of the dewatering process.

South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Clare Scriven, said the State Government has recognised that the re-establishment of the levee network and the dewatering process is the highest priority for primary producers in the Lower Murray region.

“In many of these areas the stability of the levee is unknown until an assessment is complete. The safety of staff, contractors and landholders is our highest priority, and we cannot undertake works until it is safe to access the levee,” Ms Scriven said.

“It is a complex operation requiring significant cross-government collaboration and a lot of work has occurred to date to get to this point.

“A comprehensive engagement process is underway to assist our producers to not only understand each stage of the recovery but for us to ensure the unique needs of each irrigation area is addressed in the recovery planning.”

Ms Scriven said the commencement of dewatering in parts of the system is a significant step forward in the recovery process for Lower Murray producers.

“A key priority with this initial short-term levee repair work is to ensure the levees are stabilised as effectively and as quickly as possible to allow dewatering to occur so producers are back on the land quickly,” Ms Scriven said.

“Discussions during this short-term levee repair and dewatering process, will help to inform wider decision-making into the long-term rebuild and future management of the River Murray levee network.”

The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) is leading the engagement with landholders on agriculture recovery and is working closely with key industry groups to coordinate the dewatering process.

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is working with engineers and landholders to undertake levee assessments and look at what repair solutions may be feasible once on-ground works are possible.

The program will apply to government and privately-owned levees to provide short-term support to return inundated areas to production. Program funding will cover the costs of dewatering pumps and relevant operating costs. Operational details will be resolved with each irrigation area to suit the local circumstances.

PIRSA and the South Australian Dairy Association (SADA) have identified a small number of irrigation areas that are ready for dewatering while assessment works continue for the remaining areas.

SADA Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Curtis, said getting producers back on their feet is a high priority for SADA and it is very heartening to see the dewatering process underway.

“As both ourselves and PIRSA are aware of the complex nature of the River Murray system, we recognise there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to this work. It is important that the specific dewatering requirements are being taken into account to enable relevant support to be provided,” Mr Curtis said.

“It is why we are encouraging landholders to participate in the program through working collectively through their local Irrigation Trust.

“The SA dairy sector has a bright future and it is important that we get these areas back into production as soon as we can so they can be a part of these growth opportunities.”

As part of the recovery planning process, South Australian Government representatives also met with key representatives from each irrigation area at Murray Bridge to discuss the repair work required and to provide input.

More information on the dewatering program is available at www.pir.sa.gov.au

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