Remote communities will benefit from the Australian Government’s announcement of $15.9 million to extend the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) for a further three years.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the program provides funding support to repair uncontrolled bores that threaten the long-term viability of the Great Artesian Basin.
“The Great Artesian Basin is Australia’s most significant underground water resource, directly supporting more than 180,000 people in more than 120 towns and 7,600 enterprises in regional and remote Australia,” Mr Truss said.
“Uncontrolled bores continue to threaten secure access to water across a range of communities, pastoralists, irrigators, and mining and extractive industries, as well as the health of important groundwater dependent ecosystems.
“I would like to thank local members Mark Coulton, Bruce Scott, Ken O’Dowd and Rowan Ramsey, along with state Water Ministers Andrew Cripps and Kevin Humphries, and community and industry representatives in their efforts in advocating for future funding for GABSI.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Simon Birmingham said the Initiative was one of the most significant environmental projects in the nation.
“Since 1999, the Australian Government has invested nearly $115 million to repair 650 uncontrolled artesian bores, saving 200 billion litres of water annually,” Senator Birmingham said.
“GABSI has been an incredible example of a practical environmental policy that is delivering real and meaningful improvements to one of our most valuable water resources.
“Despite this track record, the Labor Government axed all future funding from the GABSI Programme in a desperate attempt to prop up their failing budget.
“Our Government has reinstated the Programme for an additional three years through to 2017. We will use this opportunity to work with industry and communities to develop a possible private sector model for delivery in the future, to ensure a sustainable future for the Great Artesian Basin.
“Continuation of the program is anticipated to provide further water savings of around 13 billion litres a year, improving water pressure in the Basin and delivering broader improvements in water and land management, which is particularly timely given the severe drought conditions being experienced in large parts of the Basin.
The Australian Government will now work with the New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian Governments on the continued provision of matched funding for the programme.
“The Australian Government will also work with the states and the Great Artesian Basin Community Committee to develop a new Strategic Management Plan for the Basin,” said Senator Birmingham.
“The Plan will include full consideration of the future threats and pressures facing the Basin, as well as how ongoing water management aligns with the principles of the National Water Initiative.
Further information on the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative is located at http://www.environment.gov.au/node/24176.