Thursday, 01 Dec 2022

Theyre coming back: huge flows set to restore life to parched end of Murray-Darling system

Theyre coming back: huge flows set to restore life to parched end of Murray-Darling system


Theyre coming back: huge flows set to restore life to parched end of Murray-Darling system

While parts of New South Wales and Victoria continue to battle devastating floods washing down the Murray-Darling system, South Australia is waiting for the peak in expectation that thousands of properties may be inundated there, but the excess flow from La Niña rains will also provide relief to wildlife habitats deprived of adequate water for decades.

Last week, South Australians were told to brace for Murray River levels not seen in decades.

As water gathers from the wider system and crosses the border into SA, with the peak expected in early December, flows are forecast to reach 165 gigalitres a day, and potentially as high as 220 gigalitres a day. Levels are likely to stay high until February.

Communities are already sandbagging and preparing for possible evacuation. But the water is also doing some good.

The huge amounts of water flowing into the Coorong, lower lakes and Murray mouth are beginning to wash out the salty build-up for the first time since the millennium drought, helping plants, fish and birds recover.

Experts recognise the water is likely to cause damage in SA's Riverland, but say it will provide a much-needed "reset" when it reaches the critical habitats to the south.

Adrienne Rumbelow, the state environment department's Coorong, lower lakes and Murray mouth program leader, says the flows will reset the salinity levels and the ecology.

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