Preliminary Project Proposal

To:

Avon Working Group,
State Salinity Council Community Support Program 2000,
PO Box 311, NORTHAM 6401.
   
1. NAME OF APPLICANT (GROUP ETC):
  Mount Marshall Land Conservation District Committee

2. POSTAL ADDRESS
  c/o John Dunne, PO Box 45, BEACON WA 6472

3. CONTACT PERSON
  Position in group Chairman
Contact address PO Box 45, BEACON WA 6472
Phone, fax, email 9686 1045 (Ph), 9686 1005 (Fax), parakeelya@wn.com.au

4. PROJECT TITLE
  Beacon River Catchment Salinity Management Project

5. LOCATION OF PROJECT
  The Beacon River Catchment is located within the Avon Catchment of the Avon River Basin as shown on the attached markup of Department of Agriculture map “Shires of the Avon River Basin”.

6. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
 

Project Description

This proposal outlines a community-based project to combat salinity in the Beacon River Catchment in the Shire of Mount Marshall and extending into the northern part of the Shire of Mukinbudin. The project aims to address the effects of rising groundwater within the context of the State Salinity Strategy and the Regional Strategy as outlined in the Avon Working Group’s (AWG) Draft Natural Resources Management Plan.
State Salinity Strategy Issues Addressed

The project aims to adopt a range of actions at catchment scale:
• to reduce the rate of degradation of productive agricultural land;
• to rehabilitate or manage salt affected land;
• to protect and restore the key water resources of the catchment;
• to protect and restore the natural vegetation and higher value wetlands of the catchment;
• to provide the affected community with the means to address salinity issues and to manage the consequent changes;
• to protect public and private infrastructure affected by salinity.


  Regional Context - Relevance to the Avon River Basin

The project will provide a structure for managing hydrologic change within the Beacon River catchment and through community participation in the scheme, will assist in accelerating the adoption of more sustainable land use practices The scheme will provide a proving ground for approaches and practices that may be adopted on a wider scale throughout the Avon Basin.

The project has been formulated to:
• to improve surface and ground water management at sub-catchment scale;
• to improve soil health to retain sustainable agricultural productivity;
• to improve economic return by promoting robust land uses;
• to conserve and manage remnant natural ecosystems;
• to maintain usable water resources for the benefit of the community;
• to conserve native species and ecological communities in natural habitats;
• to maintain representative samples of the natural physical diversity of the catchment.

Each of these elements has been addressed in the preparation and planning for this project. The proposed scheme has the aim of enhancing the capability of salt affected and salt-threatened land within the catchment. The project will enable better management of remnant bushand and wetlands to facilitate protection and enhancement of remaining natural habitats and biodiversity.


  Actions

The project will adopt a phased approach to treat rising watertable by implementing a range of management methods including modified land use practices, strategic revegetation, shallow drainage to manage recharge, deep drainage and relief bores to manage groundwater levels. Some of these actions are already being implemented within the catchment, but a more widespread application is proposed within this project.

The project includes development of an employment and training scheme to assist in providing the technical skills required to meet these fundamental land and water management challenges. It is intended that such a scheme shall include a strong involvement for the indigenous people of the region.


  Outcomes

The primary outcome sought by this project is general reduction in groundwater levels within the salt affected land of the Beacon River Catchment. Recharge reduction will be addressed through the various land management practices. Drawdown will be facilitated by relief bores and deep drains conveying saline water to discharge sites. The reliance on relief bores will decrease as vegetation cover increases and cultivation methods adapt to more sustainable techniques.

Ongoing community involvement and co-operation through the LCDC will ensure long term management and monitoring of the scheme with open communication of outcomes to the participants and the wider community.


  Methodology

A key component of the project is a deep drain running parallel to the Beacon River to provide a conveyance for the discharge of rising saline groundwater. In its ultimate form, the drain is proposed to run 60 km through the catchment, linking into the degraded wetlands of Job’s Lake, Askew’s Lake and Lake MacDermott. The optimum drain route will be selected following an investigation phase to determine soil characteristics and groundwater levels along the route. Where the drain channel passes through deeper free draining soils, the drain will be lined with a suitable UV stabilized synthetic liner. In these areas the channel will be shallower to reduce potential groundwater uplift during wetter seasonal periods. Some sections will be piped or culverted to contend with natural watercourses, transport and access routes.

The deep drain will serve as a conveyance to collect and pass saline water to discharge sites. The nominated discharge sites are the degraded saline wetlands of Job’s lake, Askew’s Lake and Lake McDermott. The hydraulic loading into these lakes is likely to be less than annual evaporation from the lakes, thereby reducing the reliance for transfers of water further downstream. Engineering solutions in the vicinity of Job’s Lake and Askew’s Lake are likely to involve a combination of deep drainage and pumped and piped methods.

In the early stages of the project a grid of shallow groundwater monitoring bores will be established in transverse transects along the proposed route of the drain. A number of open test holes would also be excavated to provide supplementary and infill information

The purpose of the test pits and bores is:
• to identify the shallow soils and existing groundwater profiles to enable optimisation of the drain function and its route;
• to provide longer term monitoring of groundwater levels;
• to gauge the effectiveness of the drain and the other management approaches implemented and ultimately to provide an indication of the relative success of each approach.

A facilitated risk management workshop is proposed to be held to bring together the key stakeholders and community representatives:
• to identify the risks affecting the outcomes of the project,
• to assess the impacts of those risks
• to prioritize the risks, and
• to develop a strategy for managing risk for the benefit of the community.

The strong community involvement in the project will be enhanced by an active training programme to develop land and water management skills to facilitate implementation of project works.


  Participants

Mount Marshall Land Conservation District Committee
Shire of Mount Marshall

Engineering Consultant - GHD Pty Ltd

Other organisations which have been invited to participate include:
  Agriculture WA
Department of Environmental Protection
Wheatbelt Aboriginal Corporation
Greening Australia (WA)
Water & Rivers Commission
Conservation & Land Management
CSIRO
Avon Working Group

 
Other agencies which will be invited to participate will include:
  Shire of Mukinbudin
Shire of Trayning
Main Roads WA
Westrail
Avon River Management Authority
University of Notre Dame
 
  The project will be managed by a steering committee appointed by the proponent, the Mount Marshall Land Conservation District Committee.


  Project Duration

The project will be staged over three years.

The first year will involve:
• establishment of a shallow groundwater monitoring network,
• a risk management workshop to further develop the management strategy,
• building on the work already undertaken by the MMLCDC to develop and undertake a structured community participation programme;
• identification of strategic sites for revegetation and rehabilitation;
• hydrological and environmental assessments;
• design and approval of engineering works;
• development of a training programme to develop the local skills to implement appropriate portions of the works;
• initiation of the first phase of the deep drainage works from Job’s Lake through Askew’s Lake to Lake McDermott;
• construction of relief bores associated with the constructed drain;
• ongoing land use management to improve the robustness of local practices.

The subsequent years will consolidate the work undertaken in the first year with:
• ongoing monitoring of groundwater;
• fine-tuning of management techniques based on outcomes of the ongoing land management processes and phased drain construction;
• ongoing training and community participation in the project;
• staged implementation of the balance of works proposed under the scheme.


Ideally, the practices adopted and the infrastructure provided by the project should enable continued sustainable management of the land and water within the catchment. The techniques and skills developed and the successes achieved should be transferrable to other locations. It is hoped that the “kick-start” provided by this scheme will enable the process to ultimately become self-sufficient and self-funding.



  Estimated Budget

Due to the complex nature of this proposal, the funding needs have been defined on a preliminary basis only. Further detail and refinement of costs and funding options will be developed, as required, in further stages of this process.
 
Activity
Capital Cost
Annual Cost
Investigation and Planning Phase
  Groundwater Monitoring bores & equipment
$0013,000  
  Geotechnical interpretation & reporting $0002,700  
  Monitoring costs   $0007,000 pa
  Risk Management Workshop $0007,000
 
  Hydrologic assessments $0009,500  
  Basic environmental assessment $0003,200  
   


 
Engineering Design and Works  
  Aerial Survey (if necessary)
$0045,000  
  Drainage design and documentation $0020,000  
  Deep drain excavation $0567,000 $0018,000 pa
  Drain Lining (selected reaches) $0300,000 $0012,000 pa
  Piped Drainage (watercourses & access crossings $0135,000 $0008,000 pa
  Relief bores $0150,000 $0007,500 pa
       
Land Management Practices and Training
  Training and Community Consultation   $0012,000 pa
  Revegetation and land rehabilitation TBA TBA
       
Budget summary
  Year All Other Funds SSC Community
Support Funds
Total Project
Budget
  2000-01 $0045,000 + $0877,000 $0922,000 +
  2001-02 $0052,000 + $0312,000 $0357,000 +
  2002-03 $0052,000 +   $0052,000 +
  Totals $0149,000 + $1,189,000 $1,338,000 +