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Environmental water for the River Murray

Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

12 April 2013

Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, David Papps, today announced that a further 150 gigalitres of environmental water is now being delivered within the River Murray to June 2013, with key benefits for the River Murray channel, Coorong and Lower Lakes.

The River Murray system is being reconnected for environmental outcomes, with native fish, waterbirds and plants set to benefit from increased flows and less salt.

Mr Papps said the environmental benefits of watering throughout the system and down into the Lower Lakes and Coorong include assisting native fish spawning and movement, improving the health of native plants, supporting waterbirds and increasing food sources for native animals.

"The Commonwealth environmental water will contribute to the exporting of salt and nutrients out to sea through the Murray mouth."

Without the environmental water, barrage flows into the Coorong would cease and salinity levels in the Coorong South Lagoon would be expected to increase, making it difficult for native fish populations and native vegetation to thrive. "Environmental watering will help make sure that the system is healthy and resilient to possible dry periods in the future," Mr Papps said.

Mr Papps said this water will bring the total amount of Commonwealth environmental water expected to be delivered to the lower River Murray to over 770 gigalitres between July 2012 and June 2013.

"This watering year will see the largest volume of Commonwealth water provided for environmental outcomes in the lower River Murray since the Australian Government began watering in 2009."

Commonwealth environmental water is being managed in a way that connects the rivers of the southern Murray-Darling Basin, including the Goulburn River, the lower Darling River and the River Murray channel from Hume Dam. This River Murray watering will be complemented by additional flows that have been delivered through the Goulburn system and into the River Murray. "Managing the Murray-Darling Basin as a connected system is the way we will restore the system to health," Mr Papps said. The Basin Plan's environmental watering plan has specific objectives about supporting ecosystem recovery within the Coorong and Lower Lakes.

Information on how the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office has contributed to environmental watering outcomes during 2011-12 in South Australia and throughout the Basin is available from its recently released Outcomes Report