Water

MDBA says plan helps lakes

By Geoff Adams

Some signs displayed around the Coorong warn of impending disaster for the wetlands and identify the Murray as a ‘‘dying river’’.

Probably everyone in southern Australia knows about the challenges for the Murray, but have the sacrifices in water, given up by farmers, contributed to any improvements?

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority believes there have been some improvements for the Lower Lakes and Coorong:

‘‘Over the past five years increased environmental water has contributed water to end-of-system outcomes. For example, environmental water (including water flowing down the river after watering upstream environmental sites) has resulted in increased flows reaching the Lower Lakes, over the barrages, and to the Coorong every year since 2012.

‘‘The additional water reaching the end of the basin has helped maintain suitable water and salinity levels in the Lower Lakes.

‘‘The water quality and water levels in the Lower Lakes are on track to meet the 2024 expected outcomes. Environmental water has increased barrage flows since 2012, and contributed to keeping the Murray mouth open (an example of the counter-factual model results that underpin this assessment can be seen in the Hydrology Evaluation report).

‘‘However, it is too early to tell if the basin plan is on track to achieve the 2024 expected outcomes for barrage flows (a 30 to 40 per cent increase in barrage flows).

‘‘Meeting this target is reliant on the ongoing implementation of the basin plan and can also be impacted by the future climate.’’

—Basin plan evaluation, 2017