09037: Implementing drainage governance and best management approaches to waterways and wetlands in the wheatbelt

    Demonstration of an acid drainage water treatment channel at Dumbleyung. Courtesy Department of Water
    Demonstration of an acid drainage water treatment channel at Dumbleyung. Courtesy Department of Water

    Dryland salinity is the gradual loss of farming land to rising salt. WA has the largest area of dryland salinity in Australia and the highest risk of increased salinity in the next 50 years. A key tool in managing salinity in the wheatbelt is drainage.

    Funding priorities:

    • drainage governance
    • best practice management.

    Three government departments established the policy framework for inland drainage. They are the departments of:

    • Water
    • Environment and Conservation
    • Agriculture and Food, Western Australia.

    Their draft guidelines included criteria for the safe discharge of acidic drain water. Two wheatbelt sites were chosen to demonstrate a farm-scale acid drainage water treatment system and a parallel, bounded drainage system. The demonstrations showed improved management practices for drainage design and discharge management.

    The project also investigated the use of remote sensing as an economical broad-scale method in determining the impact of agricultural deep drainage by assessing vegetative change over time.

    Investment: $ 345 000
    Delivery organisation: Department of Water
    Project duration: November 2009 - December 2011
    Location: Wheatbelt

    Major project achievements

    • Study completed into the efficacy of remote satellite sensing in determining the impact of agricultural deep drainage.
    • Report completed on the study.
    • Parallel drainage systems constructed and monitored at Morawa and Beacon.
    • Report completed into the impact of the parallel drainage systems on secondary salinisation of agricultural land.
    • Acid water treatment system for deep drains demonstrated to farming community.
    • Discussion paper completed into acidity treatment targets.
    • Guidelines developed for preparation of inland drainage proposals.
    • Roles and responsibilities defined for planning and implementation policy.
    • Total acidity thresholds determined for the mortality of a range of aquatic invertebrates relevant to saline wheatbelt waterways.

    Project partners

    Murdoch University; URS Pty Ltd; Essential Environmental Services Pty Ltd; Dumbleyung Landcare; earthmoving contractors; participating landowners; Beacon Land Conservation District Committee; Morawa FIG

    More information

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