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Topics > River Murray floods

River Murray floods: FAQs

River Murray flood information and maps

Where can I find information to help me with flood recovery?

You can find a range of information and links for flood recovery assistance on the State Government's central website.

What is the current and forecast flows and water levels for the River Murray?

The latest flow information is available on the Flows and daily water levels webpage or view the weekly River Murray Flow Report.

Are there any maps available that show where flooding has occurred?

No, however DEW’s online Flood Awareness Map is available for the community and shows the inundation areas that were expected at a range of flows.

Where do I sign up for updates on river flows?

DEW 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.

The public are also encouraged to regularly check the SA Government River Murray flood website and SES website, which includes a list of current warnings with near real-time information.

Levee banks

Levee recovery updates

For updates on the status of levees, visit the dedicated Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA) levee banks page.

What is happening with the government-owned levees?

The Government of South Australia maintains a number of agricultural levee banks along the Lower Murray, between Mannum and Wellington. Agricultural levees in the Lower Murray were constructed to contain water within the main river channel, to reclaim land for agricultural activity and to house irrigation infrastructure. While these levees provide some flood protection by withstanding flows equivalent to those experienced during the 1974 flood, it is not their primary purpose, and they can only perform their role up to their design level, above which, they are likely to overtop.

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) and Department of Primary Industies and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) are continuing the process of stabilisation and dewatering of levees in the Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA).

The assessment and stabilisation process will be undertaken in 3 stages:

• Stage 1

Drones will be used to capture images and film of levee conditions, and height survey data will be captured utilising drone based LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology. LiDAR surveys commenced at the end of February 2023 and base stations have been setup at each location.

Stage 2
Once it is deemed safe to do so, DEW will access levees by foot or light vehicle to undertake on-ground inspections and undertake geophysical testing, where able, to ensure stability of banks for civil earth moving equipment. Methodology for any stabilisation works required will then be finalised.

Stage 3
Stabilisation works will be undertaken as necessary to ensure separation from the River under normal operational conditions, to assist with the pumping of water from those inundated areas.

DEW have proactively engaged the assistance of independent consultants and subject matter experts, to advise on safe and appropriate methodologies for stabilisation and consultation with the community.

How is DEW involved with council and private levees?

While the Government of South Australia does not generally have a role in ensuring private or council-owned levees are maintained, it recognises the need to get all inundated agricultural land dewatered and stabilised as soon as possible and will undertake the same process for all levees, whether they be private or government owned.

Opportunities to partner with councils and private landholders and access funds to improve or upgrade levee banks where the need is identified, will also be explored. For comments on the operation of levee banks in an emergency flood situation, please contact the SES.

Physical inspections of damaged levees will be undertaken once it has been deemed safe to do so. It is not possible to predict what works will be required, or when they will be completed, until such time these inspections have been undertaken. Considerations for works to be undertaken include the safety of our staff and contractors, accessibility (both to and along the levees), integrity of the remaining length of levee and availability of contractors and materials.

Initially, short term fix solutions will be undertaken to allow for the dewatering of the land and to provide farmers access back onto the agricultural land. DEW is currently working with farmers and irrigators to discuss longer term solutions for the agricultural levees.

How significantly were levees breached or damaged due to the 2022-23 flood event?

It’s important to note that most government owned levees were not breached during the 2022-23 flood event, they were overtopped.

Overtopping occurs when water levels exceed the levee crest elevation and flow into the area behind. Levees may be damaged during overtopping but not compromised.

A breach however, occurs when part of a levee gives way or collapses, creating an opening through which floodwaters may pass. A breach is classified as a catastrophic failure, only 2 levees were impacted to this degree.

Will damaged levees be fixed to higher than the 1974 flood level?

DEW has been onsite at levee locations since the start of March 2023, working with contractors and local government to determine safe access routes, and undertake structural integrity testing and dewatering.

Once the levee banks have been assessed for stability and bearing capacity, and deemed safe, short-term stabilisation solutions will be undertaken to enable the dewatering of the land and to provide farmers access back onto the agricultural land.

DEW is currently working with landowners and irrigators to discuss longer term solutions for the agricultural levees. Once the areas have dried out and the levees are no longer engaged on both sides, a full condition assessment will be undertaken to determine longer term requirements.

Each levee is likely to have different possible options, and there is unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all solution. It is not possible to confirm what works will be required, or when they will be completed, until the levee inspections and assessments are finalised.

Considerations for works to be undertaken include the safety of our staff and contractors, accessibility (both to and along the levees), integrity of the remaining length of levee, and availability of contractors and materials.

When will water be removed from my land?

Safety is always a key consideration and will be a priority when accessing inundated areas to undertake levee stabilisation works or dewatering.

No works will be undertaken unless it is safe to do so. With flood waters still receding and the unknown nature of levee stabilisation that may be required, it is difficult to determine the timeframe for dewatering.

Dewatering cannot commence until the water levels and structural integrity of the levee are such that further inundation will not occur.

What assistance is available?

Primary producers impacted by the River Murray flood are encouraged to access the Primary Producer Recovery Grants and the Primary Production Irrigation Grants along with other services.

For more information visit

There will be a coordinated government program to provide pumping for dewatering and cover relevant operating costs. The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) will work with each irrigation area individually to identify the specific dewatering requirements and provide the relevant support.

To participate in the program, landholders must work collectively through their local Irrigation Trust.

Is there a guide for earthen levee embankment inspection and repairs?

An 'Earthen Levee Embankment Inspection and Repair Guide’ has been developed to assist councils and landholders with the inspection and repair of levee embankments. It is not intended to replace expert advice and it is recommended that landowners obtain advice from an experienced levee embankment or dam engineer, or other relevant expert.

Now that the flood event has passed, is it safe to access government owned levees?

Please be aware that all government-owned levee banks along the Lower Murray from Mannum to Wellington remain closed until further notice. Recreational activities along the levee banks, such as walking and fishing, will not be allowed during this time.

While stability assessments and works are being undertaken, safety on and around the levees, is the primary focus. To ensure the safety of yourself and others, you should not:

  • enter or remain on an engaged levee except as provided for an emergency response or inspection, maintenance, and repair (including inspection, maintenance and repair of the levee, power lines or other infrastructure).
  • moor, anchor, attach, or secure any vessel to an engaged levee.
  • operate a vessel on the River Murray exceeding a speed of 4 knots within 250 metres of an engaged levee.

Local Irrigation Trust members and contractors will have continued access for inspections, maintenance, and emergency repairs. Members are encouraged to take all necessary precautions when working on the levees.

As privately owned levees along the Lower Murray are managed and maintained by private landholders, access to their levee banks may be closed at the discretion of the landholder.

Waste disposal stations

Are river waste disposal stations still closed?

As water levels recede, DEW is recommissioning each waste disposal station when it is deemed safe and possible to do so. The recommissioning process includes regaining safe access to the site, inspecting the infrastructure for any damage, repairing any damaged infrastructure, reinstating equipment, and reconnecting and testing services.

The following River Vessel Waste Disposal Stations are now operational:

  • Swan Reach
  • Renmark
  • Loxton
  • Berri
  • Waikerie
  • Morgan
  • Blanchetown
  • Walker Flat
  • Goolwa.

The remaining stations are awaiting reconnection to services by SA Power Networks. Based on works completed to date, indicative timeframes for recommissioning the remaining stations are as follows:


Estimated Re-Opening



Lock 6

Late May 2023*

Murray Bridge


Lock 3


*These times may be subject to change dependent on factors outside DEW’s control including, SA Power Networks, removal of adjacent temporary levee banks (where applicable), and safe road access.

Until the river vessel waste disposal stations can be recommissioned, commercial options remain available for businesses to utilise temporarily, at the houseboat owners or operators’ expense.

Significance of the flows

What were the peak flows for previous River Murray floods in South Australia?

YearPeak Flow
1956341 GL/day
1931210 GL/day
1974182 GL/day
1975162 GL/day
1993112 GL/day
201695 Gl/day
201194 GL/day

Historically, October to November is the most likely time of year that high flows occur.

Managing River Murray locks and weirs in South Australia

How were River Murray locks and weirs managed during the 2022-23 floods?

SA Water operates the locks and weirs in South Australia on behalf of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and in consultation with DEW.

During periods of normal river flow, the locks and weirs are operated to maintain relatively steady upstream water levels for irrigation, water supply and navigation.

During high flow and flood events it is not possible to operate the locks and weirs, so stop logs and navigation passes are removed. This allows the increased river flows to pass through, to ensure that there is no damage to the infrastructure, which is reinstated as the flow returns to normal operating conditions.

During November 2022, all relevant weir sections were removed at all of 6 locks and weirs on the River Murray in South Australia as water levels increased. As the flows continue to recede they will be reinstated to assist in regulating the water levels once again.

Given we knew the flood was coming well in advance, why weren’t the water levels in the weir pools reduced to provide capacity for the increased flows?

During the 2022/23 flood, lowering the weir pools would have made very little difference to reduce the risk of flooding due to the significant volumes of water that came from upstream parts of the catchment. In normal conditions, the flow ranges at the South Australian border are generally between 3 GL/day to 10 GL/day depending on the time of year.

Riverland national parks

Can I still visit Riverland national parks?

All riverside parks along the River Murray are closed except for a section of Katarapko. Due to the extent of flooding, day visitors can only access closed parks by canoe or small boat, if safe to do so. All riverside parks are closed to overnight camping. This is a special time to visit parks in the Riverland as they are thriving this spring with floodwater spilling out across the floodplains and filling creeks and wetlands.

Although our campsites and most access tracks and trails are closed there is still plenty to do and see. Remember to fight the bite and bring your insect repellent. Visit the National Parks website for details.

Am I able to visit areas along the River Murray with flood waters receding?

Yes, local towns and tourism operators are keen promote the opportunity to visit the area. DEW will continue to keep our website updated with all of the latest information on flows and river levels. Check the SES website for up-to-date information on flood alerts and warnings and information about the River Murray floods.

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 neighbor'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 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.

The Parks SA website includes a list of park closures and alerts which may impact Crown lands within national parks.

Are roads still closed due to flooding?

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

DEW is assessing key Crown land sites and restricting access as required. 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 have impacted on Crown land in different ways. The River Murray floodplains have seen high levels of flooding and remain inaccessible until waters recede with some higher waterfront Crown land parcels only sustaining minor to moderate flooding.

Visitors to Crown land are reminded to:

  • not drive on floodplains until they are safe to do so and fully dried out to decrease damage to both vehicles and tracks. Those who willingly damage Crown land may be guilty of an offence and liable to expiation or prosecution
  • 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 and/or receding flood waters
  • not to camp to close to the edge of flood waters.


What is blackwater?

Blackwater is a natural phenomenon that can occur after heavy rainfall when organic material such as leaves and wood from floodplains is washed into waterways, resulting in low dissolved oxygen levels.

High levels of organic matter washed into waterways is then consumed and broken down by bacteria. Particularly when combined with warm weather, this can cause oxygen levels in the water to drop, potentially stressing or killing fish and other creatures in the river.

What is being done to manage blackwater?

There is currently no blackwater present in the South Australian section of the River Murray.

A blackwater taskforce has been established and is chaired by PIRSA. It includes staff from various agencies and meets on a weekly basis. Further information can be found on PIRSA’s website.

Any fish kills observed in the wild should be reported to the FISHWATCH 24-hour hotline on 1800 065 522. Further information is available from the Biosecurity page of PIRSA’s website.

Environmental benefits

What are the environmental benefits for the River Murray channel and floodplains

High flows are important for native fish spawning, bird breeding and plants thriving.

This flood event has provided much needed water to areas of floodplain that have not received water for over 60 years. Black Box woodlands and other native vegetation that have been struggling in recent years will receive a much-needed boost.

When stressed lignum shrublands and red gum and black box woodlands receive water, it improves the condition of the plants which in turn provides better feeding and breeding habitats for many species of frogs, fish and birds.

Reconnecting the floodplains and wetlands to the main river will allow plants and animals to move throughout the new areas. Temporary habitats created by the floodwaters provide habitat for many species of birds, frogs and invertebrates. Connectivity also supplies organic matter and nutrients to the river system, which increases productivity and the transfer of energy up through the aquatic food web.

Higher flows also stimulate or support breeding by native fish species such Murray cod, silver perch and golden perch, and will improve the chances of successful recruitment by improving habitat availability and food resources.

What are the environmental benefits for the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth

The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth form an internationally significant Ramsar listed wetland, which continues to recover from the impacts of the Millennium drought.

This flood event will have great benefits for this part of the river system. The flushing flows have helped scour out the Murray Mouth halting the need to dredge for a period of time. Flow through the Murray Mouth is important to flush salt and pollutants from the entire river system and keep water levels and salinity in the Coorong at healthy levels.

It will also support habitat for native frogs such as the southern bell frog, small-bodied fish such as the southern pygmy perch and boost invertebrates that are food for wetland birds.

Why do we need ‘water for the environment’ to help floodplains between high flows?

There is no longer a flow regime that supports native animal and plant life, which is why water for the environment is still needed to help our waterways continue to function and flow. Flows are more reduced in terms of magnitude, duration, and frequency and environmental water is required to create small flow events or supplement larger unregulated events, to support the ecology of the river system.

The need for an effective, coordinated approach to managing water for the environment continues to be critical as the effects of climate change will create increasingly dry conditions.

Wildlife in floods

Heritage Places

My State Heritage Place has been affected by the flood event, what should I do?

Please call Heritage SA on 8124 4960 if your property is a State Heritage Place and is being affected by the flood. Identify your place by name and location and the Heritage SA team will assist where possible.

If your State Heritage Place has been impacted by floodwater, only return to the property when the SES have advised it is safe to return to the region/location where it is situated.

Where safe to do so, record floodwater impacts with photographs.

Any elements which have been dislodged because of the flooding should be retained where feasible and safe to do so.

Any work to reinstate or repair your place would be deemed ‘development’ under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016, in which case you will need advice and a development application.

Genuinely urgent works must still be discussed with Heritage SA before any work is planned or undertaken.