Coorong Infrastructure Investigations Project
The objective of the Coorong Infrastructure Investigations: Feasibility and Future Directions is to investigate the feasibility of multiple long-term operational infrastructure options to improve the ecological health of the Coorong.
The hydrology of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth system has been dramatically altered over time.
Maintaining the long-term ecological health and resilience of the Coorong may not be achievable through improved knowledge and water resource optimisation alone.
Operators have very few tools to manage flows efficiently and effectively within the Coorong and in particular the Coorong South Lagoon.
Additional management options may be required, particularly in the face of climate change.
What we are doing
Since 2020, the Coorong Infrastructure Investigations Project has engaged with community, First Nations and stakeholders through the Options, Investigations and Feasibility stages of the project to develop a significant evidence base regarding long-term management solutions.
The Coorong infrastructure investigations project stages are illustrated below.
Community and First Nations consultation is a foundational activity undertaken through every stage of the project.
What have we learnt so far?
Options Identification and Shortlisting
Throughout 2020, we consulted the community on which long-term management options for the Coorong should be subject to further investigation. The process included opportunities for the community to shape assessment criteria, the release of a number of guiding documents, a series of online information webinars, a YourSAy survey and a community consensus workshop.
In June 2020, following community consultation and a review of the Coorong infrastructure investigations completed to date, five broad options were shortlisted for further feasibility investigations
- A connection between the Coorong South Lagoon and Southern Ocean
- Targeted dredging of Coorong flow constrictions to improve connectivity
- Lake Albert to Coorong Connector
- Further augmentation of South East Flows to the Coorong
- Additional automated barrage gates
In shortlisting these, feedback from community consultation confirmed:
‘that the most important, essential outcome, is finding the option/s that best contributes to improving the ecology of the South Lagoon, as determined by scientific evidence, given water availability and constraints.”
Throughout 2021 we undertook the following detailed investigations to address knowledge gaps and inform a feasibility assessment of the shortlisted options
The investigations were guided by the findings from the HCHB Scientific Trials and Investigations Project and the Desired state of the Southern Coorong – discussion paper. The discussion paper provides an up-to-date, shared understanding of the current state of the Southern Coorong, explains what might happen if we ‘do-nothing’, presents an overview of the ‘desired state’ and provides guiding principles on how to achieve the desired state.
In late 2021 we synthesised the investigations to objectively assess the technical feasibility and the environmental, social and cultural benefits and impacts of these long-term management solutions to improve flows to the Coorong.
In early 2022, consultation was undertaken on the Coorong Infrastructure Investigations draft Feasibility Assessment Report and Summary. Feedback from this consultation has now been incorporated in a final Feasibility Assessment Report and extensive planning has been undertaken for the next phase of the program.
The feasibility investigations identified that variants of a connection between the Coorong South Lagoon and Southern Ocean (with or without targeted dredging as a complementary action) have the most potential for improving the health of the Coorong South Lagoon.
Where to from here? Design and Approvals
The Coorong Infrastructure Investigations: Feasibility and Future Directions document summarises the journey to feasibility assessment and outlines which concepts will be progressed through the next stage of further investigations, design and approvals, from 2022 to 2024.
Subject to Australian Government funding approval, the next stage of the Coorong Infrastructure Investigations Project will involve two years of:
- Detailed Engineering Designs
- Cost Analysis
- Environmental Impact Assessments
- Further Cultural Heritage Assessments
- Legislative Approvals (including Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999)
- Further Socio-Economic and Cost-Benefit Assessments.
This remains an investigations project and no decision has been made to proceed with any particular option.
Community, First Nations and stakeholder consultation will continue throughout the process and before any decision to proceed is made.
Should a suitable long-term management option for the Coorong South Lagoon be identified, appropriate approvals obtained and a decision made by governments to proceed with its construction, the earliest that any Coorong infrastructure on-ground works could commence would be 2025.
Any decision to proceed to construction would be subject to Australian and South Australian government consideration and approvals.
How can you get involved?
View past updates, engagement documents and reports.
All Coorong Infrastructure Investigations Project reports and consultation products are available on our Publications page.