Environment SA News

Barrage flow data available at the click of a button

River Murray water users and the general public can now access daily data on volumes of water released through the barrages in South Australia – all at the click of a mouse button.

Barrage flow data available at the click of a button
The calculation of flow through the barrages is a vital step to support river management.

The data, available via the Water Data SA online platform, will provide even more transparency in the role that the barrages play in river management.

Manager Water Delivery with the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) Chrissie Bloss, said South Australia had received criticism in the past for not having this data more readily available, however through technological advancements, the department is now in a position to provide the information on a daily basis.

“We want to provide river users and the community with better and timelier information on water availability and the thinking behind water management in South Australia,” Chrissie said.

“This latest evolution in water data will have inter-jurisdictional interest as I know stakeholders throughout the Basin are keen to know how much water is released through the barrages. To get this information out there is a great opportunity for us to take people on a journey about why we make the decisions we do in regards to barrage releases.”

At any time of day, the public will be able to see the total daily volume of water that has been released from the barrages to contribute to improved ecological outcomes throughout the system and more locally in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region.

Operation of the barrages is carefully managed to balance a number of objectives, including maintaining water quality and levels in the Lower Lakes, keeping continuous flow through the fishways, enhancing mouth openness and delivering water to where it’s needed in the Murray estuary and Coorong.

“With large volumes of environmental water now being delivered for ecological objectives at the end of the system, the calculation of flow through the barrages is a vital step to support river management and our obligations under the Basin Plan for this internationally significant wetland site,” Chrissie said.

“Since the start of intensive development - like taking river water to irrigate crops and the construction of dams and other water regulating infrastructure along the River Murray - the volume of water available to support a range of important ecosystems throughout the Basin has been significantly reduced.

“This culminates in reduced flows into the internationally important Lower Lakes and Coorong wetlands and out through the Murray Mouth.

“Maintaining improved flows over the barrages in recent years has also enabled a range of important environmental outcomes to be achieved with diadromous fish now migrating between fresh and salt water with increasing numbers, and native fish populations increasing in the Lower Lakes.

“Barrage flows also ensure salt and nutrients collected throughout the River’s journey are exported out of the system, preventing toxic build-up.

“The barrages play an important role in the health of the entire River Murray system. We know rivers die from the mouth upwards and so it’s important that great care is taken to manage this part of the system appropriately.”

In the coming months the data provided will be expanded to include the daily total at each barrage (Goolwa, Mundoo, Boundary Creek, Ewe Island and Tauwitchere), the number of gates open at each barrage and when changes have been made to gate configurations.

To view the data go to: https://water.data.sa.gov.au/Data/Location/Summary/Location/A4261002/Interval/Latest