Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth

Get the latest news from the Coorong and Lower Lakes region.

This Ramsar Wetland of International Importance is the final leg of Australia’s iconic River Murray.

The impacts of prolonged drought and water over-allocation across the Murray-Darling Basin left the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) region on the brink of environmental collapse. Since late 2010, high flows of freshwater have returned and the region is showing signs of recovery.

Significant projects

Why we’re taking action

There have been record low river flows to the CLLMM region due to drought and over-allocation across the Murray-Darling Basin. A range of environmental and community issues – such as acid sulfate soilssalinity and the invasion of pest plants and animals – now affect the region.

Flows have recently increased, resulting in higher water levels and flow reaching the Coorong. However many issues affecting the region remain. If they are not remedied or managed properly there could be serious and irreversible environmental impacts on the wetlands.

The work being carried out to protect the region now will allow us to manage and monitor the refreshed wetland environment under changed conditions in the future. Further investment is taking place by the Australian and South Australian Governments through the Murray Futures and The Living Murray programs.

Description of the region

The CLLMM region is about 142,500 hectares in size and has a diverse range of freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats. The native plants and animals are unique, not just within the Murray-Darling Basin, but worldwide. Many internationally migratory birds can also be found.

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 long. It is separated from the 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 River Murray 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. Aboriginal people, such as the Ngarrindjeri, 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 used for several purposes, including conservation, recreation, water storage and extraction, grazing and cropping, and urban and residential development. 

Download maps of the CLLMM region.

Further resources