Recent studies into projected climate change for the Murray-Darling Basin indicate that future average temperatures will increase and rainfall will decrease across the entire basin, resulting in reduced flows in the River Murray.
Sea level in South Australia is also predicted to rise at least 30 centimetres by 2050 and one metre by 2100.
Although the existing coastal dunes are expected to protect the Lower Lakes in the immediate future, this sea level rise may lead to a transition of the freshwater lakes to a more estuarine environment by the end of the century.
Diversifying our water sources and reducing our reliance on the River Murray is just one way that the South Australian Government is preparing to minimise the impacts of climate change on the river, and the communities and industries that rely on it.
South Australia is already a leader in the capture and reuse of stormwater and wastewater, and the desalination plant can provide half of metropolitan Adelaide with a water supply that is independent of rain.
Research and projects are also underway to support the river’s irrigation industry to use water more efficiently and diversify into areas that use less water.
Implementing the Basin Plan will also help the River Murray adapt to a changing climate. Reducing the amount of water taken from the river and returning to a more natural cycle of wetting and drying will better prepare the river system to cope in dry times and reduce the impacts of extreme drought like the Millennium drought.
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