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Australia Boosts Murray-Darling Spending to Ensure Food Supply

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Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Australia will spend an extra A$1.8 billion ($1.9 billion) to boost the amount of water returned to the Murray-Darling Basin as it seeks to ensure sustainable food production in the world’s second-biggest wheat exporter.

The funds will be provided over 10 years from 2014 to return an extra 450 gigaliters of water to the system, through measures including removing low-lying bridges and undersized dam outlets, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a statement today. That will take the total amount of water returned to the basin to 3,200 gigaliters, the government said.

The Murray-Darling Basin, which extends from southern Queensland to South Australia, covers 14 percent of Australia’s land and produces more than one-third of the nation’s food including wheat and dairy. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority was set up in 2008 to create a plan to manage water in an area where some river beds run dry in years of drought.

The additional water will “help ensure the system never again goes into a period of drought lacking the resilience it needs to survive,” the statement said.

Water storages in the Murray-Darling Basin were 97 percent full as of Oct. 24, data on the basin management authority’s website showed. Australia is the driest inhabited continent, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

To contact the reporter for this story: Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne at psedgman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Johnson at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net

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