The Department for Environment and Water has begun working with landholders in the Finniss, Tookayerta and Currency Creek catchments to ensure the long term sustainability of water resources as part of its Flows for the Future Program.
The program aims to ensure critical ‘low flows’, which make up just a small part of the total water flow in each catchment, are passed around barriers such as dams and watercourse extraction points to continue down watercourses in the same pattern that native fish, animals and plants have become adapted to over thousands of years.
Flows for the Future is helping to re-establish these natural seasonal low flow patterns by collaborating with landholders to install infrastructure at targeted dams and watercourse diversions to enable low flows to pass back into the creeks and catchments.
Following the successful roll-out of the program across the Angas, Bremer and Marne Saunders catchments, the team is seeking to work with landholders with priority dams and watercourse diversions around the Finniss, Currency Creek and surrounding catchments to achieve key environmental watering targets.
Flows for the Future Program Leader Renata Rix said many water catchments in the EMLR are in poor condition, with some parts struggling without flowing water, or with significantly reduced flow for longer than they’ve experienced in the past.
“There are more than 8,000 dams in the region impacting upon the health of watercourses. By funding the design and restoration of low flow solutions, our program aims to restore more natural stream flows throughout the systems that bring life to the EMLR,” Renata said.
“The devices we install on landholders properties allow low flows of water to pass around dams into the stream below during natural periods of flow (via rainfall, runoff etc.).
“By diverting a small part of the total water flow past each dam and back into the environment, we can maintain enough flow into these watercourses to keep them healthy for native fish, frogs, water dependent plants, native animals and irrigators.
“Our team works closely with each landholder to tailor a solution specific to their individual property and needs but it’s important to stress that this is a completely voluntary program, and landholders are under no obligation to participate.”
Renata said low flows are a small proportion of the total natural water flow passing through a catchment but have a big impact on water-dependent ecosystems by keeping catchments wetter for longer.
“It’s helping restore a more natural flow regime for endangered native fish species including the Southern Pygmy Perch and River Blackfish, as well as providing aquatic refuges for animals to survive summer and dry times.
“We’ve also received positive feedback on the impact the project is having on the environment with creeks and waterways now flowing at times of year when they would normally be dry and an increased quantity of native vegetation along the waterways.”
Renata said the Flows for the Future project came about after the community expressed a desire to share the responsibility of passing environmental flows down the catchment so the program is helping fund that for the community.
“It’s a key focus of ours to ensure the Flows for the Future program balances the water needs of communities, industries and the environment by returning more water to our catchments whilst still maintaining water security for landholders,” Renata said.
Flows for the Future is a joint Australian and South Australian government-funded initiative supporting the delivery of the Basin Plan objectives across the EMLR
For more information visit: https://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/mr/water/flows-for-future