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A salt interception scheme designed to stop about 36,000 tonnes of salt from entering the River Murray has been launched in South Australia.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Senator Simon Birmingham, and South Australian Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter, announced the completion of the Murtho Salt Interception Scheme, completed under the 2001 Basin Salinity Management Strategy with contributions from the Commonwealth and Basin States.

The $30 million scheme will intercept highly saline groundwater and prevent it from entering the River Murray and floodplain, bringing down salinity levels in the river.

“As a result of a couple of wetter years in the southern basin and more flows being delivered to South Australia under the Basin Plan, there has been good dilution in the river, meaning salt levels have been kept at a reasonable level,” Senator Birmingham said.

“However, the basin has a highly variable climate, so we know that there will be drier periods in the future and less flows travelling through the system.”

“During those periods, the effects of saline groundwater entering the river are far greater and, schemes such as this one will play a significant role in maintaining the quality of water in the river and will ensure we can maintain the health of the Murtho floodplains, and have better outcomes for water users at the end of the river system.”

Minister Hunter said that the scheme, featuring nearly 50 km of pipeline extending from Murtho through to near Berri, and consisting of a series of pump stations and monitoring bores, would bring a range of benefits to South Australia.

“By managing the salinity levels in the River Murray, this scheme will contribute economic benefits to domestic, irrigation and industrial water users in South Australia today and into the future, as salinity remains a long-term management issue. It will also improve environmental management of Disher Creek, a River Murray wetland and habitat for the endangered Murray hardyhead species with the provision of groundwater,” Minister Hunter said.

“This is a great example of how the Basin Governments are investing in the future of our Basin communities and industries so they can continue to be supported by a healthy working basin.”

Operations and maintenance of the scheme is through the joint funding program which is coordinated by the MDBA and undertaken in South Australia by SA Water.

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