Coorong Infrastructure Investigations Project

Project Objective

The objective of the Coorong Infrastructure Investigations Project (CIIP) is to investigate the feasibility of multiple long-term operational infrastructure and management options to improve the ecological health of the Coorong.

The problem

The Coorong is an iconic South Australian wetland and one of the most important waterbird habitats in the Murray-Darling Basin. The Coorong South Lagoon, in particular, is in a highly degraded state due to reduced flows and impacts from the millennium drought.

The reduction of flows and connectivity has significantly impacted water quality in the Coorong and led to ongoing ecological decline. Impacts are particularly prevalent in the Coorong South Lagoon where conditions have affected a number of key aquatic species.

 While there have been some improvements following the introduction of environmental water, implementation of the Basin Plan and the completion of the South East Flows Restoration Project, the Coorong South Lagoon remains in a degraded state.

Managing the connectivity and delivery of flows to the Coorong is also likely to become more complex with climate change.

What we are doing

CIIP is investigating the feasibility of long-term infrastructure and management options for improving the ecological health of the Coorong. The below timeline shows the various project milestones throughout the investigations process. DEW is committed to involving the community in every step of the process and will be consulting with the community throughout the project.

 ciip-timeline.jpg

What have we done so far?

During the  first stage in the engagement process for  CIIP, options identification and shortlisting, a survey was circulated to the community to measure what they thought was important in evaluating options for the Coorong. They were also given an opportunity to offer any new ideas that they thought should be considered.

From this survey, a group of interested community members came together on behalf of the broader South Australian community, to decide on a list of things that they felt were important in determining the best option.

The community members determined that the most important, essential outcome, is finding:

the option/s that best contribute to improving the ecology of the South Lagoon as determined by scientific evidence, given water availability and constraints.”

In June 2020, we then asked the community to evaluate and prioritise the options, with the community determined values in mind. Find out what the community said.

What was decided?

Following analysis of all the feedback gathered, and combined with a technical Multi-Criteria Analysis, the following five infrastructure options have been shortlisted and will now undergo a detailed feasibility assessment investigations

  • A connection between the Coorong South Lagoon and Southern Ocean
  • Coorong Lagoon dredging to improve connectivity
  • Lake Albert to Coorong Connector
  • Further augmentation of South East Flows to the Coorong
  • Additional automated barrage gates.

This is an investigation into feasibility at this stage, not a decision to proceed any of these concepts.

Further community consultation will be required on any options deemed to be feasible before such a decision would be made.

Find out more details on how the decision was made and read the announcement.

Where to from here?

Feasibility investigations will now be conducted for the prioritised options to develop a complete analysis, including combinations of the options. These investigations include but are not limited to:

  • hydrodynamic, biochemical and ecological modelling
  • ecological assessments and analysis
  • engineering technical feasibility assessments
  • concept designs
  • social/economical assessments
  • risk assessments
  • cost/benefit analysis.

Feasibility investigations will help us determine the options that are likely to have the best benefit for the Coorong. For those options deemed feasible and desirable, business case(s) will be developed for consideration by the Commonwealth for further investment, including implementation.

How can I get involved?

We are going to be involving First Nations, local communities and the broader South Australian community at each assessment phase of the project. You can find out about any current opportunities on our Project Coorong “Get Involved” page.

Additional resources

Download the technical review  of previously identified and investigated infrastructure options, including the provision of a high-level summary of each option.

Alongside this, DEW initiated a series of internal workshops to develop a State of the Coorong discussion paper to describe:

  • the current state of the Coorong
  • the potential “do nothing” future state of the Coorong
  • the desired ecological state of the Coorong
  • how we might reach the desired state.

The discussion paper provides a useful introduction and rationale for what long-term management options, like those introduced in this process, might need to achieve.

Ongoing information

To receive Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin updates and opportunities, including citizen science activities and community consultations, please email projectcoorong@sa.gov.au.

Read more about our related priorities