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Environmental water delivery: River Murray – Coorong, Lower Lakes and main channel below Lock 1

Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, 2012

Environmental water delivery: River Murray – Coorong, Lower Lakes and main channel below Lock 1 collates current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to the River Murray below Lock 1 and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the catchment. This work has been undertaken to support the efficient and effective use of environmental water and to engage communities on how this may best be achieved. This aims to encourage community discussion and feedback on the use of environmental water, to identify future opportunities and recognise operational risks and constraints. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au.

Introduction

Increased volumes of environmental water are now becoming available and this will allow us to pursue a larger and broader program of environmental watering. It is particularly important that managers of environmental water seek regular input and suggestions from the community as to how we can achieve the best possible approach. As part of the consultation process for Commonwealth environmental water we are seeking information on:

  • community views on environmental assets and the health of these assets
  • views on the prioritisation of environmental water use
  • potential partnership arrangements for the management of environmental water
  • possible arrangements for the monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER) of environmental water use.

The River Murray system below Lock 1 supports significant ecological values as well as internationally recognised wetland systems. Potential water use options for the system include providing flows to establish a variable lake level regime for Lakes Alexandrina and Albert to support riparian and floodplain vegetation; providing flows to improve connectivity between the Lower Lakes and the Coorong for the migration of fish species; and providing barrage flows to maintain water quality in the Lower Lakes suitable for salt-sensitive flora and fauna species.

A key aim in undertaking this work was to prepare scalable water use strategies that maximise the efficiency of water use and anticipate different climatic circumstances. Operational opportunities and constraints have been identified and delivery options prepared. This has been done in a manner that will assist the community and environmental water managers in considering the issues and developing multi-year water use plans.

The work has been undertaken by consultants on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Previously prepared work has been drawn upon and discussions have occurred with organisations such as the South Australian Department of Environment and Natural Resources, South Australian Department for Water and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Management of environmental water will be an adaptive process. There will always be areas of potential improvement. Comments and suggestions including on possible partnership arrangements are very welcome and can be provided directly to: ewater@environment.gov.au. Further information about Commonwealth environmental water can be found at Commonwealth Environmental Water website.

Commonwealth Environmental Water
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: +61 2 6275 9245