Find out the latest news from the Coorong and Lower Lakes region.
The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region is located at the downstream end of the Murray-Darling River system. It is also known as the Coorong, and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert (Lower Lakes) Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar site).
The site is approximately 142,500 hectares in size and has a diverse range of freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats. The plants and animals found in this region are unique, not just within the Murray-Darling Basin, but worldwide. Many internationally migratory birds can also be found here.
The River Murray terminates in South Australia at the Southern Ocean, having passed through Lake Alexandrina, the Murray estuary, and finally the Murray Mouth. Lake Albert is a terminal lake connected to Lake Alexandrina by a narrow channel.
The Coorong is a long, shallow, brackish to hypersaline lagoon more than 100 kilometres in length. It is separated from the Southern Ocean by a narrow sand dune peninsula. Saline waters of the Coorong lagoons and Murray Mouth estuary are prevented from entering the lakes and the Murray River by a series of barrages built in the 1930s.
The region is the only point of entry and exit for fish that move between freshwater and marine habitats, and is the only pathway to export salt from the Murray-Darling Basin.
The nearly 28,000 people who live in the area mainly work in agriculture, viticulture, fishing, manufacturing and tourism. The Ngarrindjeri people have a strong spiritual and cultural connection to the land and are the Traditional Owners. There are many traditional and archaeological sites in the region.
The Ramsar site is currently used for several purposes, including:
- water storage and extraction
- grazing and cropping
- urban and residential development.
There have been record low river flows to the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region due to drought and over-allocation across the Murray-Darling Basin. This has resulted in a range of environmental and community issues affecting the region, in addition to ongoing long-term issues.
River flows have increased, resulting in higher water levels and flow reaching the Coorong. However the issues affecting the region remain. If these issues are not remedied or managed properly there could be serious and irreversible environmental impacts on these internationally recognised wetlands.
The planning and work being carried out to protect the region will enable the refreshed wetland environment to be monitored and managed under changed conditions in the future. Further investment by the Australian and South Australian Governments through the Murray Futures Program will seek to remedy these issues.