During 2011-12, a total of 329 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to the lower Murray River in South Australia contributing to enhanced river flows and additional inflows to the Lower Lakes and Coorong. This volume includes water that was delivered from the Goulburn River and lower Broken Creek to achieve multiple benefits across the southern connected basin.
Environmental water was delivered between January and February to manage the recession from high natural flows during late December/early January and ensure that river levels decreased gradually. This enabled a more natural flow pattern and aimed to support the environment by enhancing spawning opportunities for large-bodied native fish, such as golden perch (Macquaria ambigua). The watering action ceased on 3 February 2012 due to high natural river flows.
From February to June additional environmental water was delivered as part of Entitlement Flow. This enabled additional barrage releases for inflows into the Coorong. This action supported the flushing of salt and nutrients from the Murray-Darling river system and helped to manage salinity levels in the Lower Lakes and Coorong.
Throughout 2011-12 environmental water released to meet objectives in upstream catchments also helped to sustain flows in the lower Murray River and provided additional inflows to the Lower Lakes and the Coorong. This included actions in the Murrumbidgee River and mid-Murray region.
The South Australian Research and Development Institute have been monitoring the outcomes from Commonwealth environmental watering in South Australia this year. Results will be available over the coming months and will be published on our website.
Clark's floodplain - Commonwealth environmental water delivery
Photo: Nature Foundation SA
In October 2012 the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder entered into a long-term agreement with Nature Foundation SA for the use of up to 10 gigalitres a year of Commonwealth environmental water over the next five years to support wetland and floodplain rehabilitation projects in the lower Murray River. Nature Foundation is the first non-government organisation to enter into an agreement to manage the use of Commonwealth environmental water locally for the benefit of the Basin.
For more information see: Commonwealth works with Nature Foundation South Australia to deliver water - Media release 24 October 2012.
On 18 February 2013 the Nature Foundation SA celebrated the start of watering on Clark's Floodplain - adjacent Lock 4 near Berri, the first Commonwealth environmental watering project under Nature Foundation's Water for Nature initiative.
Up to 100 ML of Commonwealth environmental water has been agreed for use on Clark's Floodplain for the purpose of supporting the improved health and recruitment of black box vegetation communities.
For more information:
- Media release - Rescue Mission for River Murray Private Wetlands Begins - 15 February 2013
- Fact sheet - Nature Foundation SA Water For Nature Watering Project - Clark's Floodplain (PDF)
- The Nature Foundation SA has produced the video First Commonwealth Environmental Watering for Nature Foundation which refers to this watering event.
South Australia Clark's floodplain – Commonwealth environmental water delivery commencement – flood runner.
Photo: Nature Foundation SA
Nature Foundation SA first Commonwealth environmental watering event at Clark's Floodplain – key partners: Bob Lott (Chair Nature Foundation), David Papps (Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder), Steve Clark (land owner) and Jason Size (Chairperson Bookpurnong Lock 4 Environmental Association)
Photo: Leo Davis - provided courtesy of Nature Foundation SA