The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) area has high ecological, social and economic significance to South Australia. It is also a very complex and dynamic system with many competing interests that must be managed. Additional environmental water that will be delivered to South Australia under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan will improve the health of the region but will also increase the complexity of its management.
DEWNR and SA Water currently manage the water levels in Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert for multiple purposes. However, there is currently no single formalised document that guides this process, meaning there is the potential for some trade-offs between competing interests and sub-optimal performance. In order to better manage water levels in the Lower Lakes, the Variable Lakes Project has been developed. This project will combine the valuable research that has been undertaken in the CLLMM region, water level management procedures and strategies along with additional research to address current knowledge gaps.
The Variable Lakes Project has three main objectives:
Lower Lakes Water Level Policy
A policy will be developed that guides how water levels are to be managed. This will include determining the optimal water level operation for ideal environmental, social, economic and water security outcomes. The policy will address the benefits and risks of water level operations.
Barrage Operating Strategy
The project will develop a strategy for guiding how the barrages are best used. This will include tools, rules and procedures for the operation of barrages under different operating conditions. The strategy will comply with and work alongside the goals and objectives detailed in the Policy.
Documented body of knowledge regarding lake levels and barrage operations
There are currently a number of misconceptions in the broader community surrounding the CLLMM area and associated projects. A comprehensive body of knowledge will be created to address these misconceptions and provide clear, documented information to the community to prevent further confusion around the work in the CLLMM region.
The project team will consult with the community, including targeted stakeholders and the Ngarrindjeri to inform the development of the policy and strategy, and to help grow the body of knowledge.