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River Murray Update
16 June 2016

A healthy River Murray one step closer

Ministers make key decision to improve Basin Plan outcomes

In an important step for river users, Basin Ministers have agreed to progress a package of supply, efficiency and constraints measures that will adjust sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) under the Basin Plan.

Agreement on this package of measures is a huge step in our efforts to secure the health of the River Murray and provide long-lasting benefits for primary producers, industries, communities and ecosystems that rely on the river.

Supply measures

Ministers agreed to 37 supply measures that will effectively increase the SDLs and significantly reduce water recovery from irrigators and other water users.

The innovative projects provide ‘equivalent environmental outcomes’ using less environmental water.

South Australia has made a strong contribution to this work and put forward six projects, and is jointly responsible for another five projects.

South Australian supply projects are:


South Australian Riverland Floodplains Integrated Infrastructure Project (SARFIIP)

SARFIIP will enable floodplain inundation of the Pike and Katarapko floodplains to occur on a scale only otherwise possible under much higher flows. These flows will help restore floodplain health, including plants and animals dependent on the wetlands and floodplains of the Riverland, while making sure salinity impacts can be managed both short and long term.

Video: Pike Floodplain Restoration - Margaret Dowling Creek Project


Riverine Recovery Project

The Riverine Recovery Project aims to return a number of wetlands to a more natural wetting/drying regime that existed before locks, weirs and causeways were built. The flows will benefit ecosystems along the River Murray between Wellington and the border of South Australia and Victoria.

South East Flows Restoration Project (SEFRP)

By restoring inflows from the South East, the SEFRP seeks to assist maintaining salinity in the Coorong South Lagoon within the target range and prevent ecological degradation during periods of low flows from the River Murray.

Image: South East Drainage Network


South Australian Murray Constraints Management

This work aims to address constraints on environmental water delivery, making it easier for water to reach greater areas of wetlands and floodplains. This is important for maintaining longitudinal connectivity from the border to the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth and promoting lateral connectivity to deliver water to the wetlands, floodplains, creeks and anabranches connected to the main river channel.

The Living Murray Chowilla Floodplain Icon Site (Chowilla)

The Chowilla Floodplain project involves a major environmental regulator on the Chowilla Creek and a range of complementary works. The environmental regulator will allow flows to be managed to enable flooding across the floodplain under relatively low river flow conditions. The Chowilla Floodplain works is proposed as a ‘supply measure’ project.

Image: Chowilla Floodplain


Flows for the Future

This project proposes activities that will result in additional flows to riverine environments in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges including end of system flows to the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth.

Projects which South Australia is jointly responsible for include:

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has been notified of the supply measures and will work with states to determine the actual quantum of water recovery offset by mid-2017, which could be more than 500 gigalitres.

Projects are expected to be completed over the next eight years, providing a welcome boost to regional economies and the health of the Basin's rivers.

Efficiency measures

As part of the package, all Basin states confirmed their commitment to support the additional efficiency measures to recover an extra 450 gigalitres needed to secure a healthy River Murray.

Under the Efficiency Measures Programme, $1.57 billion is available for upgrading both on-farm and off-farm infrastructure to improve the efficiency of water delivery systems and in doing so return additional water for the environment. Pilot programs are due to be rolled out in South Australia and New South Wales shortly.

Efficiency measures will provide additional investment in irrigation improvements, in addition to those programs established to 'bridge the gap' to sustainable diversion limits in the Basin Plan, including the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program and the South Australian River Murray Sustainability Program.

Constraints Measures

Ministers also agreed to progress measures to address constraints on environmental water delivery, making it easier for water to reach greater areas of wetlands and floodplains - with the benefit to landholders of mitigating the effects of natural high flows.

Next steps

Ministers will also consider opportunities for a wider range of complementary projects, such as carp control, to provide triple bottom line benefits under the Basin Plan.

While the decision was an important milestone, there remains much work to be done to ensure that projects are delivered and on-ground outcomes are achieved – including continuing engagement with communities and individuals.

You can find out more about Basin Plan implementation, including the South Australian supply and constraints measures and the efficiency measures pilot program, by subscribing to the River Murray Update.

You can also visit the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources website.


Draft water allocation plan progressing towards adoption

The River Murray Water Allocation Plan (WAP) is crucial to management of the river in South Australia. Our dependence on, and the competing demands for, the water resources of the River Murray means that it is important to plan for the allocation and use of this water during periods of reduced water availability, as well as periods of plentiful supply.

The WAP is currently being updated to incorporate community feedback, lessons learnt from the drought and local knowledge from regional communities.

The feedback received during consultation has led to further work on a number of issues, but final steps are now being taken to progress the WAP to adoption.

A progress update for the community and the comments received during the consultation process are now available online.


River Murray Update

The South Australian Government has launched the River Murray Update to deliver the latest news, information and announcements about the River Murray and Basin Plan implementation in South Australia straight to your inbox.

Previous editions are now available.

To stay informed on the issues that affect you, and show your support for a healthy, working River Murray, you can subscribe to the River Murray Update here.

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