Salt-affected land reclaimed

28 Oct, 2005 08:45 PM
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A SUCCESSFUL drainage project has enabled a Gutha farmer to reclaim more than 800ha of salt-affected land.

Rod Madden and his wife Lorraine have a 4050ha mixed sheep and wheat enterprise at Gutha, north of Morawa.

The new drain is 7.5km long and 2.5m deep with a 31.5ha evaporation basin as the emptying point.

Mr Madden said almost 20pc of his property was affected by salt and he faced annual production losses of $75,000.

"But since we put in the drain the worst areas have been totally drained," he said.

"I've had absolutely phenomenal success with this project.

"In a couple of years I expect to be able to crop it again."

The drain project was part of the Environment Department Engineering Evaluation Initiative (EEI).

EEI chairman John Ruprecht said an enormous amount of water had been drained.

"Since January approximately 800 kilolitres a day has been pumped from the drain outlet into the evaporation basin," Mr Ruprecht said.

"During winter the original 5ha, 60,000 kilolitre basin was enlarged to 31.5ha and more than double the volume to cater for the greater than expected drain flow.

"Changes in groundwater levels around the drain and basin are being measured with 42 monitoring bores."

Mr Ruprecht said the groundwater's salinity and pH levels were similar to those of seawater.

He said the drain had lowered the water table by up to 0.5m.

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