Flood protection works undertaken by property owners

Do I need approval to remove temporary flood protection measures undertaken prior to and during the flood event?

DEW supported temporary flood mitigation measures on Crown land to assist in protecting infrastructure and assets from the River Murray flood waters. Temporary measures included the construction and/or use of sandbags, water bladders or plastic sheeting.

Now that flood waters are receding and when safe to do so, temporary flood mitigation measures can start to be removed. Should removal involve earth disturbing activities or the removal or introduction of soil or fill to remediate the land, permission may be required from DEW prior to commencing. This ensures

  • activities do not impact sites of cultural significance and native title
  • Appropriate approvals can be obtained such as development approval and
  • Works undertaken on Crown land is not detrimental to the environment and communities.

Emergency provisions were implemented for temporary flood mitigation activities. Should any of temporary measures now be considered permanent, retrospective approval for these works will be required. Those seeking retrospective approval should discuss their proposal with DEW’s Crown Lands Program and their local Council.

Retrospective approvals are an important part of recovery and remediation. It ensures permanent flood mitigation measures are appropriately constructed and fit for purpose, and do not have a negative impact on the environment, adjoining neighbour's property and the community.

How do I ensure my activities do not impact on Aboriginal Heritage located on Crown land?

Land surrounding South Australia’s waterways and Rivers are of high importance to Aboriginal people and their communities and often contain material from the activities of elders and descendants.

Native Title rights continue to exist and land adjacent the River Murray and within its floodplains hosts numerous culturally significant sites, some dating back as far back as 40,000 years.

It is important that any activity occurring along the River Murray does not adversely impact on these sacred sites that are of high value to Aboriginal people and their communities.

For further information please visit the DEW website for Crown lands.

What if my infrastructure is damaged by the flood event or receding flood waters?

Should you have experienced any damage as a result of rising or receding flood waters, if it is safe to do so, you should make immediate attempts to secure your infrastructure to assist in preventing any further damage to it along with other structures and/or visitors within the vicinity.

Your insurance company will be able to assist with repairs and/or removal of the damaged infrastructure.

Should an emergency situation arise as a result of infrastructure located along the river you should call 000 for life threatening situations or SA State Emergency Service on 132 500.

Infrastructure and assets on Crown land

Who is responsible for infrastructure located along the river?

Recreational infrastructure (such as jetties, pontoons and retaining walls) and agricultural infrastructure (such as pumps, pipelines and pump sheds) on Crown land are owned by members of the public who usually own the adjoining property.

The responsibility for the maintenance and management of this infrastructure, including during high flow and flooding events remains with the owner of that infrastructure. Those owners are obligated to adequately insure their infrastructure as outlined in their Crown land licence’s terms and conditions.

Mooring houseboats

Where can I moor my houseboat along Crown land?

You may moor a houseboat for a temporary stay of up to 21 days on Crown land.

The permanent mooring of houseboats on Crown land is not permitted, except where authorised by the appropriate tenure or in a designated marina.

Some parts of the river are held under freehold title to the water's edge. You are not permitted to moor a houseboat in these locations without the permission of the landowner.

Councils have taken steps to close dedicated Crown land under their management based on the increase in River Murray flows. Local councils can provide further information on these closures.

DEW is assessing key Crown land sites and will take steps to restrict access to the area or facilities should this be required.

Water levels are changing on a regular basis and houseboat owners are encouraged to regularly check their vessels and adjust mooring ropes as necessary. This is not only important as river levels rise but also when waters recede due to the risk of strandings.

Houseboat owners and operators should show caution mooring to trees as flood waters subside. Trees could be susceptible to collapse as flood waters may have softened the ground and/or eroded around their roots. Additional forces applied from a moored vessel may increase the risk of collapse which could cause direct damage it.

DEW is not responsible for the recovery or re-floating of houseboats should they become stranded as a result of receding flood waters. In the event that your vessel becomes stranded, you will be required to organise the recovery or re-floating of the vessel at your cost. If your vessel is stranded on Crown land and for a period longer than 21 days, you will be required to seek authority from DEW on behalf of the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water for it to temporarily remain on Crown land until it is recovered. Any authority provided with be subject to applicable terms and conditions and permit fees.

The mooring of houseboats to existing structures along the river may result in damage to that structure and/or the houseboat. You may be liable for any damage resulting from your effort to secure your houseboat.

Flood waters are likely to extend past previously accessible waterfront public land and onto private land and you may be required to seek permission to moor your houseboat from the landholder or responsible land manager.

Visiting and accessing Crown land

What area along the River Murray in South Australia is Crown land?

Both the banks and the bed of the River Murray are Crown land and are subject to the rules that apply to Crown land and may be subject to native title.

In a majority of locations, this is an area of approximately 30 m to 50 m from the water’s edge, but may extend further inland where there is a significant wetland, swamps or conservation areas.

However, there are a few areas where private ownership exists to the water’s edge.

Where can I find information about river safety?

If you are visiting the River Murray, it’s important to do your research on the places you’ll be visiting so you can be best prepared.

Check out useful links to river safety information. Your safety is our concern but ultimately your responsibility.

How have the floods impacted Crown land?

Much of the land along the River Murray and its floodplains is Crown land or land proclaimed within the State Reserve system.

The River Murray flood event resulted in water spilling from the River channel out onto the surrounding floodplains and waterfront land. The flood event impacted waterfront and floodplain Crown land in various ways. Some areas were fully inundated while others were isolated with access limited due to high water levels.

The flood event has provided fantastic environmental opportunity to assist in restoring the River Murray floodplain and ecosystem health, with the benefits being observed for years to come

As we move past the peak and with water levels receding, there continues to be safety risks to users and visitors who should show caution when visiting Crown land and interacting with the River Murray environment during this time. The environment may have changed due to the flood, providing additional risks to visitors such as decreased accessibility, bank collapse or slumping, debris and/or trees being unstable due to erosion and damage.

Restricted access, risks and safety concerns and debris/waste can be reported to DEW to DEW.CrownLands@sa.gov.aufor assessment. DEW will undertake a risk management approach in assessing and responding to reports received and look to further mitigate any risk to people and environment. You should talk with your insurance provider regarding any flood related damage caused to private assets which are located on or adjacent Crown land.

Until floodplains and waterfront Crown land fully dry out after water levels recede, there is an increased risk of damaging property, such as vehicles or access tracks on the Crown land if accessing these areas. Typically river flats become impassable when wet with increased risk of strandings, slippery road conditions and unnecessary erosions to tracks. Those willingly damaging Crown land may be guilty of an offence and liable to expiation or prosecution.

How will I know if Crown land remains accessible?

The SES website provides a list of current warnings with near real-time information on current warnings, incidents and, when available, sandbag collection locations (should that be required).

DEW also has an interactive Flood Awareness Map that shows the modelled areas of expected inundation at each of the potential flow rates provided.

DEW also issues a weekly River Murray Flow Report with information about water levels, flow rates and barrage operations, as well as navigation issues and construction activities. This currently includes the weekly High Flow Advice.

For the latest rainfall, river conditions and flood warnings upstream of the SA border visit the Bureau of Meteorology.

How can I check if roads are closed due to flooding?

Visit the SA State Emergency Services website and Department for Infrastructure and Transport websitefor information on road closures.

DEW is assessing key Crown land sites and restricting access as required, however as inundation levels increase over the coming months, it is likely more of these tracks are impacted by floodwaters. Visitors to Crown land are reminded to:

  • consider safety when visiting sites that have some level of flooding
  • not to drive through flood areas due to the risk of being bogged on River Murray floodplains
  • plan your trip so that you do not become stranded with access cut off from rising flood waters
  • not to camp to close to the edge of flood waters.

Can I still visit and/or camp on Crown land?

The River Murray high flows will impact on Crown land in different ways. The River Murray floodplains are likely to see high levels of flooding and remain inaccessible until waters recede however some of the higher waterfront Crown land parcels may only sustain minor to moderate flooding.

Visitors to Crown land are reminded to:

  • consider safety when visiting sites that have some level of flooding
  • not to drive through flood areas due to the risk of being bogged on River Murray floodplains
  • plan your trip so that you do not become stranded with access cut off from rising flood waters
  • not to camp to close to the edge of flood waters.