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Smart Water Awards 2019 - Environmental Impact Award nominees

April 3, 2019

Sponsored by: Environment Protection Authority

The Environmental Impact Award recognises an organisation that has demonstrated an outstanding environmental initiative that has made a substantial contribution to their business, local environment or a broader sustainability issue. This may include reducing water use; improving water quality; and/or reducing waste and/or energy use.

Meet the nominees:

Kangaroo Creek Dam Safety Upgrade Waste Minimisation | SA Water

Starting in 2016, the Kangaroo Creek Dam Safety Upgrade is upgrading the dam to current safety standards to minimise the risk to the downstream community. The upgrade increases the dam’s ability to withstand earthquakes and comply with the updated Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD) guidelines for flood capacity.

The works include:
• A major spillway upgrade which has included blasting of a large quantity of rock to increase spillway width from 13 metres to 52 metres.
• Significant remedial works to stabilise the steep natural rock faces to ensure the safety of the construction teams working below.
• Widening, raising and strengthening the existing rock-fill embankment, and installing external seals to the upstream concrete face of the dam wall.
• Raising the height of the dam crest by five metres to provide improved flood protection for the downstream catchment.
• Providing improved access arrangements to the extended outlet tunnel downstream of the dam, and constructing a new spillway discharge structure.

SA Water is committed to ensuring the Kangaroo Creek Dam Safety Upgrade is constructed in a sustainable manner that minimises impacts on the surrounding environment and provides environmental benefits where possible.

Opportunistic Flow Improvement and Revegetation at Bookmark Creek, Renmark | Department for Environment and Water

Pitts Regulator originally held water in Bookmark Creek at Renmark to be pumped to nearby Disher Creek. The pipe was removed years ago but the brick and concrete structure was left in place.

This project was a unique and opportunistic innovation by the River Murray Infrastructure Operations team that addressed a catalogue of highly undesirable features of the disused Pitts Regulator, including the risk of people swimming in the creek and becoming trapped in the Regulator and drowning.

The removal of Pitts Regulator helped improve the flows through the creek as the regulator had been constricting the creek, creating a barrier to flow and fish movement.

The local community were supportive of the project and revegetated the site after the removal of the regulator.

With no identified budget, the work was provided and completed through in-kind support from internal modelling services, community liaison efforts and collaboration between the infrastructure and floodplain teams at Department for Environment and Water. Including earthworks, the work was completed for only $30,000 and has been paid for from savings in a maintenance budget.

Restoring the Ecological Character of the Coorong’s South Lagoon – Expert Panel | Goyder Institute for Water Research

The Coorong is considered to be the most important waterbird wetland in the Murray-Darling Basin, and it has been degraded to the point where it is at risk of losing the key elements that make it such an iconic wetland.

The South Australian Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs MP, requested that the Goyder Institute for Water Research assemble a multidisciplinary team of eminent scientists to establish the ecological state of the Coorong’s South Lagoon and recommend restorative actions.

This work was critical to the South Australian and Commonwealth Governments reaching an agreement to allocate $70 million to support the long-term health of the Coorong as part of a Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin program.

The challenges facing the Coorong are multi-faceted, and so the Institute brought together a team of scientists with expertise in all aspects of the system – from water quality and algae to invertebrates and waterbirds – to provide coordinated advice to the Minister. The project involved 16 scientists from The University of Adelaide, SARDI, Flinders University, CSIRO and Department for Environment and Water.

Collectively, the team identified the most significant risks to the South Lagoon’s ecological values and identified the short-, medium- and long-term actions required to restore its ecological character.

Riverine Recovery Project | Department for Environment and Water

The Riverine Recovery Project (RRP) was established in 2008 and is due for completion in June 2019. It was established to maximise the environmental benefits of River Murray water by creating opportunities for flexible water delivery to environmental assets under different water availability scenarios.

The wetlands element of the project has focused on reintroducing wetting and drying capability to reinstate the ecological processes within individual wetlands. However, when combined with the benefits from other components of the project, such as the improved connectivity of creeks in floodplains and the manipulation of River Murray weir pools, RRP has delivered landscape scale outcomes that will be realised over the coming decades.

Specifically, RRP has expanded the management of wetlands to many wetland complexes throughout the South Australian River Murray. This has increased the capacity to manage and secure South Australian River Murray’s environmental variability by filling specific ecological gaps and contribute to the recovery of endangered wetland plants.

Importantly, South Australia’s ability to now manage many individual wetlands, creeks and weir pools will enable improved environmental watering and achievement of specific environmental outcomes through highly controllable infrastructure and sound adaptive management planning. South Australia’s improving knowledge base can then be fed back into the Murray-Darling Basin-wide environmental watering strategy and assist in continuous improvement of environmental water delivery across the whole basin.

South East Flows Restoration Project | Department for Environment and Water

The South East Flows Restoration Project (SEFRP) is a $60m Australian and South Australian Government investment to assist salinity management in the Coorong South Lagoon, enhance flows to wetlands in the Upper South East and reduce drainage outflow at Kingston beach. The project area extends 93.4 kilometres, predominately along the existing Taratap and Tilley Swamp drain corridors from the existing Blackford Drain near Kingston in the state’s South East, extending to the Salt Creek outlet into the Coorong South Lagoon.

The SEFRP involved constructing a new flow path from the existing Blackford Drain to the Coorong at Salt Creek providing capacity to deliver a further median volume of 26.5 GL per year directly into the Coorong South Lagoon. The project also engineered the capacity to inundate the Tilley Swamp Watercourse by an additional 4200ha to total a 6100ha wetland area enabling a water storage capacity of up to 42GL. This provides the South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board (SEWCD Board), as the operator/owner of the infrastructure the flexibility and operational capacity to deliver water to the Coorong when required.

The project is funded by the Australian and South Australian Governments, administered by the Department of Environment and Water and delivered by Natural Resources South East.