Funding for landholders to upgrade Cummins Wanilla Basin drainage

News article |

Up to 85,000 hectares of Eyre Peninsula farming land that is increasingly being affected by poor drainage in the Cummins Wanilla Basin, will be open to priority infrastructure works thanks to $250,000 in funding secured by the Cummins Wanilla Basin Streamcare Group.

10 February 2021

The Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board – which has been working closely with the volunteer streamcare group to establish the basin management plan that can now be put into action – will administer the $250,000 in funding from the South Australian Government’s Regional Growth Fund, through a grants program for landholders.

The basin contains a vast network of surface water and groundwater drainage channel systems that have been developed over many decades to support agricultural production and address issues such as dryland salinity, waterlogging, erosion and sedimentation.

Landscape Operations Manager with the EP Landscape Board Seb Drewer, says the drainage system now needs coordinated on-ground works to improve the hydrology of the catchment before it significantly impacts on local agricultural production as well as connected ecosystems.

“The drainage channel systems are not only pivotal to agriculture production; they support a significant amount of habitat and biodiversity,” Mr Drewer says.

“The channels connect up wetlands and other water dependent ecosystems including Coffin Bay, which in turn supports a thriving aquaculture and fishing industry.

“We’ve been working closely with the streamcare group and landholders for several years now to establish the basin management plan; and with this $250,000 in funding to be matched in-kind, we can get landholders involved in a coordinated approach to delivering $500,000 of priority works.”

The more than 20 landholders within the basin, will be able to apply for a grant through the EP Landscape Board, to complete work that upgrades and maintains existing drainage infrastructure. The landholders need to commit at least a 50% matching contribution which can include their labour and use of machinery costs.

Streamcare group chairman Trevor Carter says it’s great to see this project move ahead.

“We’ve been working towards this for some time now, and I’d like to thank landholders who have been involved in the catchment surveys to assist us get this funding. I think landowners in the basin area will be relieved to start putting plans into action,” Mr Carter says.

“I really encourage all impacted landholders in the basin to take a look at this and put forward an application to help safeguard their agriculture land from salinity and water-logging.

"This is a great opportunity for us to get on top of this threat to our farming land.”

Project proposals for grants of $2000 to $30,0000 in this first round, must be submitted by 5pm on Monday, March 8, 2021 for project completion in the 2020-21 financial year.

For more information, see the Board’s grants web page to download the funding guidelines and application form.

Landholders can also call the Board’s Water Resources Officer, Dave Cunningham, on 8688 3126 for further information.

The drainage management plan was completed late last year, thanks to funding from the EP Landscape Board, the District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula and Agricultural Innovation and Research Eyre Peninsula.

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