Funding to undertake infrastructure works to recharge water levels
The Limestone Coast Landscape Board has successfully received funding to undertake infrastructure works to hold water in the landscape to improve aquifer recharge and protect ecological values at Middle Point Swamp (also known as Hutt Bay Wetland) in the Lower Limestone Coast Prescribed Wells Area as part of a Regional Recharge Farms project.
The Regional Recharge Farms project, which is being delivered by the Limestone Coast Landscape Board in partnership with Nature Glenelg Trust, SA Water and Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation, is part of a larger collaboration that is undertaking a combination of investigating opportunities, ground works, feasibility studies and research towards achieving water security and sustainability for the environment, industry, community and First Nations in the Lower Limestone Coast.
The partnership has previously received seed funding from the State Government’s Landscape Priorities Fund and this additional funding from the National Water Grid Authority will allow more on ground works to be undertaken as part of the broader direction of the Limestone Coast Landscape Board addressing water sustainability in the region with its ‘Making Every Drop Count’ focus.
This broader direction involves a large number of partners all actively working towards a water secure and sustainable future for the region in light of climate predictions. Other partners include PIRSA, Green Triangle Forestry Industry Hub, SEWCDB, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Lake George Management Committee, Goyder Institute for Water Research and the Department for Environment and Water.
“The Limestone Coast Landscape Board has a strategic approach to water security in a changing climate. The Landscape Priorities Fund and National Water Grid Authority funding has enabled a significant and innovative project focused on protecting and balancing our water resources in the region. It’s a big priority for the Board.” said Penny Schulz, Chair of the Limestone Coast Landscape Board.
“We are committed to water resource planning and management that addresses sustainable water use, while supporting the Limestone Coasts environmental, industry, social and cultural needs”.
The Limestone Coast Landscape Board are now looking to work with their partners to scope the Infrastructure works required for the project, which will include backfilling of internal artificial drains and regulation of artificial drainage outlets by the end of 2022.
The project will also trial delivery of recycled wastewater from the adjacent Finger Point Treatment Plant as a supplementary/alternate water source for Middle Point Swamp.
What is Recharge Farm?
A recharge farm is a new concept developed in the project and is a site that is located strategically in the landscape where water can be held through infrastructure works to increase recharge back into the aquifer and potentially prevent the need to reduce primary production water allocations due to declining groundwater levels.
Retaining water in the landscape can improve aquifer recharge, stabilising groundwater declines and creating the co-benefit of boosting water security for primary producers and enhancing important wetlands in the Limestone Coast.
Holding water back is an innovative new water resource management approach to tackle the complex challenge of water security in a changing climate.
Middle Point Swamp Recharge Farm
The recharge farm is located strategically to rejuvenate the internationally significant wetlands at Middle Point Swamp in the MacDonnell management area which is currently at high risk due to the potential for groundwater declines.
Primary production in the Lower Limestone Coast Prescribed Wells Area (LLC PWA) is heavily reliant on the unconfined aquifer system. Groundwater levels have been declining in some places across the area due to demand for water exceeding recharge. The response to declines has been a schedule of reductions to water allocations to primary production in certain management areas in the LLC PWA since 2018.
The Regional Recharge farms project is one of ten water infrastructure projects under the National Water Grid Connections Pathway worth nearly $90 million being delivered across South Australia, which will enhance water security, help stimulate regional economies and create hundreds of jobs.
The National Water Grid Connections pathway enables the quick delivery of targeted water infrastructure projects to bring more immediate benefits to Australia’s regional communities.
Image of Nature Glenelg Trust’s (NGT) land that will benefit from reversal of artificial drainage and the water recycling trial from the Finger Point treatment plant. This site, known as the Hutt Bay Wetland was donated to NGT by a local farmer a number of years ago. The name Hutt Bay Wetland is synonymous with Middle Point Swamp.
Photo Credit. Mark Bachmann of the Nature Glenelg Trust