$1 billion boost for urban water infrastructure

By Adam Coleman

Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong and Treasurer Wayne Swan have released guidelines that will govern the $1 billion National Urban Water and Desalination Plan that was announced in this year’s Budget.

The plan will see the Federal Government fund large-scale infrastructure projects to help cities and towns with populations of more than 50,000 people, meet future water demands.

Private organisations, water utilities, and state, territory and local governments are invited to apply for the funds which will support the building of desalination plants and recycling and storm water harvesting infrastructure.

The funding is conditional on state and territory governments achieving water reforms agreed through the Council of Australian Governments.

Those organisations that are successful in the application process will receive either 10 per cent of the total cost of the project or $100 million, depending on which is the lesser amount.

Senator Wong also said the Government is aiming to secure Australian water supplies with its long-term $12.9 billion plan, Water for the Future.

 “Whereas the previous Government thought city water supplies was a problem for the States, the Rudd Government is stepping up to the plate to provide assistance for State Governments that are diversifying their water supplies.”

For areas with less than 50,000 people, the $250 million National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns offers funding targeting practical projects such as pipelines, water saving infrastructure and water treatment plants.

Organisations must submit proposals for funding from the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan by 30 June 2009. Guidelines will be made available tomorrow (Monday) at www.environment.gov.au/water.

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