‘The Coorong and in particular the South Lagoon is still in a highly degraded state so while we’ve been getting flow, additional flow could go a long way to helping the recovery of the Coorong.’
That’s one of the resounding messages from the short film ‘A decade of connection and healing’, released last week.
The film commemorates 10 years of continuous connectivity at South Australia’s Coorong and Lower Lakes since the end of the Millennium Drought in 2010.
This continuous connectivity has been made possible by water for the environment – water allocated specifically to keep the River Murray and its wetlands alive.
Coorong Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth – A Decade of Connection and Healing
If you don’t have 20 minutes to watch the full film, read on as we bring you the key points explored in the film and show you some snippets that’ll bring you up to speed in less time than it takes to say ‘continuous connectivity at South Australia’s Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth’.
What’s the film about?
Back on 14 September 2010, flows through the barrages near Goolwa were reinstated for the first time in more than three years after significant volumes of River Murray flows refilled the Lower Lakes following the drought.
The short film includes interviews with local First Nations people, community representatives, scientists, and government and tells the story of just how severely the Coorong and surrounding areas have suffered over time and how better water management, research and collaboration between community and government is seeing gradual improvements to parts of the Coorong and Lower Lakes.
The film’s theme is one of connection – the connection of flow from the river to the sea, the connection between people and their environment, the connection between what happens upstream and downstream, and the connection between all who share a passion for a healthy, sustainable and functioning River Murray system.
TEASER Decade of Healing - Rick
Why produce the film?
It’s important for people to understand the plight of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth and just how important continuous flow is along the River Murray Channel down to the Murray Mouth.
The film-makers also wanted to highlight the essential role of water for the environment in this journey of ecological recovery; not just for the Coorong and Lower Lakes, but for the health of the whole Murray-Darling Basin.
It tells the story of the impacts of increasing water consumption and over extraction amongst a changing climate, while celebrating the ecological, social, economic and cultural recovery that is slowly occurring at parts of the iconic Ramsar-listed wetland.
TEASER Decade of Healing - Bill
What improvements are we seeing thanks to continuous connectivity?
Parts of the natural environment in the wetland have been recovering slowly with the help of water for the environment.
Diadromous fish – which are fish that need to spend their life-cycle in both freshwater and saltwater – are migrating with increasing numbers again.
A great example is congolli, whose numbers are bouncing back as connectivity in the Lower Murray means adult females can move from freshwater to the ocean to spawn and baby congolli are able to migrate into the Coorong and upstream to the Lower Lakes.
The recovery of congolli is significant for the entire ecosystem as they’re a key prey for some waterbirds and fish like mulloway.
Threatened fish populations also continue to increase in the Lower Lakes, some migratory shore birds are returning and zooplankton and invertebrate populations have continued to recover – which is great to see!
TEASER Decade of Healing - Adrienne
Where to from here?
While we have had some periods of good flows, much of the site, particularly the Southern Coorong, is still highly degraded and there is still lots of work to be done.
A significant volume of water for the environment has been delivered to the Coorong over the last 10 years with the majority of flows being utilised across multiple wetlands upstream for various outcomes before being returned to the river, to meet further outcomes downstream.
More than 12 years of data collected has increased researchers’ and ecologists’ understanding of how the system responds to flows.
We now have a greater ability to fine-tune the timing, location, duration and extent of flows to target certain species and outcomes – allowing more effective use of water for the environment.
That said, additional flows for the lower Murray are needed to continue the recovery of this internationally significant wetland.
TEASER Decade of Healing - Hilton
The film has been funded by The Living Murray Initiative, one of Australia’s most significant and longest running river restoration programs. Established in 2002, The Living Murray is a joint initiative funded by the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and Australian governments, coordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The long-term goal of the program is to achieve a healthy working River Murray system for the benefit of all Australians.
The film contributes to the state government’sProject Cooronginitiative which is taking action to restore the health, vitality and visitor experience of this important area.
Learn more about the benefits of connectivity with our story:Find out how 10 years of connectivity have helped the Lower Lakes and Coorong.