National Water Week activities create a splash

Activities to celebrate National Water Week held along the River Murray last week showcased successful programs marking years of hard work and passion from those involved.

DEW staff, stakeholders and community leaders came together at an event at Lake Alexandrina at Goolwa to celebrate 10 years of continuous flows through the barrages*

DEW’s Water and River Murray division celebrated National Water Week with two big-ticket items for the week:

1. 10 years of continuous flows through the barrages

At an event at Goolwa last Friday, the Lower Lakes and Coorong community came to mark 10 years of continuous flows through the barrages from the river to the Coorong following the devastating Millennium Drought.

Coorong Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) Project Officer Kirsty Wedge said that people coming together was the ideal way to celebrate the 10 year anniversary.

‘The gathering was about more than just connection in the waterways, it was also about connection between people, because that connection helps to drive change,’ Kirsty said.

‘That’s why we wanted to gather community, Ngarrindjeri, scientists, water holders and water managers together to acknowledge this significant achievement, which has been made possible by the water for the environment program’.

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10 years of flows through the barrages called for cake

2. Increased lamprey numbers thanks to water for the environment

With Saturday also marking World Fish Migration Day, the success of the delivery of water for the environment in winter 2019 and 2020 was a cause for celebration – having resulted in increased numbers of the rare and primitive lamprey migrating upstream in the River Murray.

Attention was focused on Shorty the short-headed lamprey who joined Larry the pouched lamprey and his friends on an upstream migration. Lampreys spotted near the Murray Mouth have been fitted with microchips and are being tracked through upstream fishways.

While pouched lamprey have been tracked migrating over the last few months as far as Lock 11 (at Mildura), the first short-headed lamprey made it to Lock 1 (at Blanchetown) last week. You can follow Shorty and Larry’s travels on the DEW website.

What’s next?

Here’s an overview of what DEW’s Water and River Murray will be working on in the coming weeks and months.

Southern spring flow

The E-Water team has been working with colleagues interstate and at the Murray Darling Basin Authority and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office on a coordinated southern spring flow event which is currently making its way down the River Murray.

This spring event will see a couple of pulses of increased flows over the next two months which, although relatively modest, are still important for the river channel.

Environmental regulators at Pike and Katarapko

The increased flows are also supporting the first operation of environmental regulators at Pike and Katarapko to inundate large areas of these floodplains.

DEW Floodplain Ecologists Sam Walters and Richie Walsh have observed fantastic outcomes as water spills across areas of floodplain.

‘We’ve seen flowering lignum and vast mats of aquatic plants as well as an incredible frog response with a huge number of frogs heard calling including the threatened southern bell frog,’ Sam said.

Water for Chowilla wetlands

A number of wetlands at Chowilla will receive water via pumping over the coming months. The benefits from last year’s watering of Coombool Swamp at Chowilla continue with large numbers of waterbirds and frogs making use of this site for breeding and feeding.

Pumped delivery to key wetlands is still an important part of delivery of environmental water at Chowilla as well as at numerous other wetlands along the River which are being watered through the combined efforts (and passion) of DEW, the Landscape Board, community, NGO’s and industry.

For more information contact CLLMM Program Leader Adrienne Rumbelow

*Attendees of the event included staff from DEW, SA Water, MDBA, CEWO (Commonwealth Environmental Water Office), CSIRO, SARDI Aquatic Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Coorong District Council, Alexandrina Council; and community representatives from the CLLMM (Coorong Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth) Community Advisory Panel, Coorong Partnerships and Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation and Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority