WORK has started on an $850,000 agricultural drainage project that will improve the health of the Peel-Harvey Estuary with flow-on benefits tipped for local farms and businesses.
The two-year Better Collaborative Drainage Management project to build weirs and similar structures to control the flow of agricultural drains is being led by Peel Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) with funding from the State Government’s Regional Estuaries Initiative.
The installation of adjustable height weirs to hold back water, enabling sediments to settle and nutrients to be absorbed, will improve water quality in the catchment.
Adjustable weirs are increasingly used around the world to reduce nutrient and water losses from farms.
A trial construction by PHCC in 2014 showed the efficacy of this type of structure for both environmental benefits and multiple advantages to farming communities.
Farmers in the Waroona area will be the first to have weirs installed, with construction starting about 10km west of Waroona where the drain flows through a wetland into the Harvey River and then Peel-Harvey Estuary.
Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke said the work would help reduce the likelihood of algal blooms in rivers and increase biodiversity at weir sites.
“But it’s not just about the environmental benefits – the beef industry is an important part of our economy and the livelihoods of Peel region residents,’’ she said.
“As climate change continues to impact our water supplies in the south west, our farmers are looking for new ways to secure water resources.
“This project is a win-win with a reduction in nutrients flowing into our waterways while farmers have more water available for longer.”