Lake Albert salinity back to normal levels

Date posted: 02 November 2017

Hon Ian Hunter MLC

Minister for Water and the River Murray

 
Salt levels in Lake Albert have returned to pre-Millennium Drought levels thanks to water level cycling and several high-flow events in recent years.
 
The lowering and raising of water levels – known as water level cycling – has been carried out by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources since the Millennium Drought ended in 2010, helping to reduce salinity in Lake Albert to about 1,500 EC.
 
In addition to the high flows in recent years, the delivery of environmental water has also assisted in removing salt from the lower River Murray and Lower Lakes as this has increased the volume of water available for release over the barrages.
 
Background
 
Lake Albert is one of the two South Australian freshwater lakes – known as the Lower Lakes –located where River Murray meets the ocean.
 
At the peak of the Millennium Drought (2006-2010), Lake Albert salinity reached more than 20,000 EC. Sea water is approximately 50,000 EC.
 
A yearlong Lake Albert Scoping Study was carried out in 2013/14 to pinpoint the best management option to improve and maintain water quality and ecological health. The study recommended that water level cycling – being cost neutral and timely – be adopted to reduce salinity in Lake Albert.
 
Environmental water was delivered by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s The Living Murray program, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder and the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage.
 
Quotes attributable to Water and River Murray Minister Ian Hunter
 
It’s fantastic to see the result today from water level cycling events and extra water to reduce the Lake Albert to pre-Millennium Drought salt levels. The reduction in salinity has improved water quality for the environment, economic and social uses.
 
Salinity management is one of the most significant environmental challenges facing the Murray-Darling Basin. If not managed appropriately it has serious implications for water quality, plant growth, biodiversity, land productivity and the supply of water for critical human needs.

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