The first stage of the Victorian Murray Floodplain Restoration Project is set to begin with the injection of $29 million in funding from the Commonwealth secured by the Victorian Government.
Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, said the project would contribute to environmental outcomes of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan—delivering ecological benefits to wetlands, native fish, birds and plants at nine sites along the Murray River in northern Victoria, helping to drought-proof precious floodplains and wetlands.
“Our environmental projects will create millions of dollars of investment in regional Victoria and help deliver real benefits under the Basin Plan by helping to drought-proof our precious floodplains and wetlands without taking more water off farmers,” Ms Neville said.
“This is about delivering on our commitments to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan while balancing the needs of all Victorian water users—the environment, farmers, Traditional Owners and community.”
The initial stage of the project will include designs, approvals, operating and monitoring plans and other pre-construction activities for regulators, pipes and pumps to water wetlands and floodplains at each site.
This will allow environmental water to be delivered efficiently into floodplains, replicating big floods without flooding towns and requiring high flows in the Murray River.
All sites are part of the agreed package of Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment projects that, together, will reduce the Basin Plan’s water recovery target by 605 gigalitres.
This means the project will also protect farmers and irrigators, as it will improve the environment without further water buybacks—a win-win for the Basin and communities.
The sites include Gunbower National Park, Guttrum and Benwell Forests, Nyah and Vinifera Parks, Burra Creek, Belsar-Yungera Island, Hattah Lakes North, and Wallpolla and Lindsay Islands.
The estimated construction cost of the project is more than $300 million.
Community engagement and consultation will commence before the project begins to allow Traditional Owners, key stakeholders and the community to shape the proposal for each site.
This project will be delivered collaboratively by a regional partnership coordinated by Lower Murray Water and supported by Goulburn Murray Water, Mallee Catchment Management Authority, North Central Catchment Management Authority and Parks Victoria.
A new Project Control Group has been set up to oversee delivery. Carey Anderson has been appointed as the Chair and Josh White as Project Director. Both have extensive experience in the construction and water industries. The major tender for the project will be awarded soon.