Environment SA News

Why it’s important to give wetlands a drink

Wetlands are a crucial part of the Riverland’s natural landscape and need water to stay alive.

Why it’s important to give wetlands a drink
Overland Corner Wetland in March 2019, showing healthy vegetation after receiving four months of water for the environment

Wetlands play a key role in water quality as they can assist in filtering out sediments, nutrients and pollutants, which in turn helps to provide an improved habitat that supports a larger and more diverse groups of native plants and animals.

Natural Resources South Australian Murray-Darling Basin (SAMDB) floodplain and wetlands Project Officer Sam Hardy said delivering water for the environment from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) has enabled delivery of water for the environment to 18 wetland sites across the Riverland over this 2018-19 spring/summer period.

“This water has helped restore and protect these significant local wetlands,” Mr Hardy said.

“One of these sites, Overland Corner Wetland, located adjacent to the River Murray immediately downstream of Lock 3, is part of the cluster of wetlands that surround and extend the Banrock Station Ramsar Wetland site.”

Overland Corner, situated above the normal water level in the River Murray, is a ‘temporary’ wetland and only receives water from the river in a high-flow event.

“Between high-flow events, the wetland needs water to be pumped into it to keep it in a healthy condition and support the diverse range of important native plants and animals that live in the area,” Mr Hardy said.

The environmental watering undertaken at Overland Corner has maintained and improved the condition of long-lived vegetation such as river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis var. camaldulensis), black box (Eucalyptus largiflorens), river cooba (Acacia stenophylla) and lignum (Duma florulenta), including both mature and recently regenerated trees.

The watering also supports important habitat for threatened species such as the regent parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus) and southern bell frog (Litoria raniformis).

Overland Corner was filled in October/November 2018, and has had a couple of ‘top-ups’ throughout the summer to extend the ecological benefits.

Wetland monitoring at Overland Corner is carried out by the Natural Resources SAMDB Floodplains and Wetlands Team together with support from the Overland Corner Wetland Group and Berri Barmera Landcare volunteers. This includes regular photo-point monitoring to visually capture wetland change over time, with some sites monitored since 2003. This photopoint record shows an improvement in floodplain condition since the Millennium Drought broke in 2010.

This project is supported by the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and the NRM levies.

Why it’s important to give wetlands a drink