The Coalition Government is delivering $12 million in funding for a project to restore natural flow patterns in key South Australian branches of the River Murray, to support strong and sustainable agriculture and tourism industries in South Australia, and protect the river’s biodiversity and ecosystems.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, said the project underlined the Coalition Government’s commitment to ensuring a healthy Murray–Darling river system for the benefit of communities right across the Basin, from the Condamine to the Murray Mouth.

“This project will improve the health and resilience of two high priority catchments in South Australia, the Angas and Bremer Rivers in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges, while supporting agricultural businesses,” Minister Joyce said.

“In addition to generating almost $440 million in agricultural production each year, the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges is a key tourism destination for South Australia, as well as being home to a number of threatened species and important ecological systems.

“It is vital that we work to secure the long-term health of the river system, while ensuring the social and economic wellbeing of the communities that live there.

“Flows for the Future seeks to restore the natural water flow patterns within the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges that have been affected by water capture. This will be achieved by shifting the timing of consumptive water capture to higher flow events without any reduction to licence holders’ water allocation entitlements.

“This project is just another example of our commitment to take a more innovative approach to water recovery in the Murray–Darling Basin, and to avoid water purchases that remove water from communities whose livelihoods depend on that water.”

Minister Ruston said it was expected that the project would not only result in additional flows of up to 560 ML each year to the Angas and Bremer River systems, but would also increase end-of-system flows to the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth in South Australia.

“The Flows for the Future project will involve low flow bypasses at up to 500 strategically located dams and water course diversions.  This will help shift the way water is taken to ensure environmental flows are provided to maintain river health at critical times, while also allowing for water harvesting of higher flows for consumptive use,” Minister Ruston said.

“This government is committed to securing the long-term health of the Basin system, but we do not want any more water taken out of Basin communities than is necessary to achieve this.

“Hearing first-hand from irrigation dependent communities in my home state of South Australia, it is clear that water recovery needs to balance the needs of the environment, Basin communities and industry.

“That is why the Australian Government is making $8 billion available for more efficient and effective water infrastructure across the Basin, an investment in the future of Basin industries and communities, and a healthy river system.”

Fast Facts

  • Agricultural production South Australia is worth more than $6.2 billion—around $1.8 billion of this is from irrigated agriculture.
  • Irrigated agriculture in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region produces more than $140 million worth of vegetables each year, more than $95 million worth of fruits and nuts (excluding grapes), and almost $54 million worth of grapes.
  • South Australia has a water storage capacity of 2,257 GL—which is currently 99% full at 2,235 GL.
  • The Coalition Government is delivering $3.7 million for feasibility studies under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund to help expand SA’s irrigated agriculture sector.