The Salinity and Drainage Strategy
The "Halt the Salt" campaigns of the 1970s made people aware of salinity. Since that time a huge amount of cooperative research and action has taken place to manage the issue.
Salinity in the Murray-Darling Basin is too large and too complex to be tackled by any government alone. It requires coordinated interstate action and government and community cooperation. The agreement between the Commonwealth, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria to implement a strategy to manage the salinity and drainage problems of the Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys was a very significant breakthrough in the management of natural resources in Australia.
In the words of Senator Peter Cook, chairman of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council at the time the agreement was reached:
The Salinity and Drainage Strategy is an interstate program of action coordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. The objective of the Salinity and Drainage Strategy is to maximise net benefits to the Basin subject to the overall objectives of the Council. The specific objectives of the Strategy are to:
The Salinity and Drainage program consists of four main elements:
The Strategy strikes a balance between reducing river salinity in the lower Murray, which largely benefits the 1.25 million urban and industrial consumers in South Australia, while providing the opportunity to control waterlogging and land salinisation in New South Wales and Victoria. The net effect of all projects and actions will be a reduction in river salinity levels downstream of Mildura while saving over 500,000 hectares of agricultural land from waterlogging in the upper Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys.