24/11/2021

The Australian Government’s commitment to infrastructure projects that deliver healthy rivers and wetlands while boosting jobs and stimulating economic activity is showcased through South Australia’s Ramsar-listed Coorong South Lagoon.

Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said the $60 million South East Flows Restoration Project was fully utilised recently for the first time since it was constructed in 2019.

“This project was a real jobs bonanza for construction and engineering workers,” said Minister Pitt.

“The Commonwealth contributed $54 million to build 94 kilometres of new and upgraded drainage channels that reverse historical impacts and improve the health of the Coorong.

“Recent above average rainfall means the South East Flows Restoration Project is doing the job intended and helping restore health to the Coorong.

“An estimated 400 megalitres of freshwater per day was delivered into the Coorong throughout August and September.

“This project makes the most of the water that is available now and in future.”

South Australia Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the injection of freshwater into the Coorong will help manage salinity level and reinstate wetland habitat to attract birdlife back to the area.

“Historically, freshwater flowed naturally from the South East into the Coorong South Lagoon, however drainage work over the last 150 years significantly reduced the volume of flows,” said Minister Speirs.

“Over time, reduced inflows and drought have raised salinity in the Coorong to very high concentrations, making it too salty to support its important ecosystem.

“Monitoring will show how much the newly restored freshwater flow impacts on these salinity levels. The results will better inform management of the internationally significant Coorong.

“During the Millennium Drought the Coorong and the Lower Lakes were on the verge of environmental and ecological collapse.

“Since then we have seen a significant improvement in the health of this internationally-recognised wetland with 10 years of continuous connectivity recently celebrated as well as increased native fish populations.

“This is just another example of one of the success stories of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan with the natural environment in the wetland recovering slowly with the help of water for the environment which has supported a range of ecological outcomes.”