Delivering a healthy and resilient Coorong and Lower Lakes

The impacts of prolonged drought and water over-allocation across the Murray-Darling Basin has had a significant impact on the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM).

The site is a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and is the final leg of Australia’s iconic River Murray.

The $137 million Coorong Lower Lakes Murray Mouth (CLLMM) project was implemented from 2012 to 2020 in response to the condition of the CLLMM site and aimed to maintain and protect the environmental value of the Ramsar-listed site and deliver a healthy and resilient Coorong and Lower Lakes to support local communities and the region’s Traditional Owners.

For a full description of the project, its conduct, benefits and outcomes please see the CLLMM Final Report.

What was done

The CLLMM Recovery Project was comprised of more than 25 management actions which included restoring habitats, restoring vegetation, various research and monitoring projects, and extensive engagement with the community, including First Nations.

Key achievements included:

  • A vegetation restoration project that planted 4.6 million plants at 72 individual sites across 975 hectares.
  • More than 100 kilometres of shoreline and revegetation fencing installed at 61 individual sites across an area of 14,432 hectares.
  • Construction of fishways to enhance fish passage through barrages.
  • Breeding and release of threatened small-bodied fish at sites across the region including Yarra pygmy perch, southern pygmy perch, Murray hardyhead and southern purple-spotted gudgeon.
  • Construction of 13 kilometres of new drainage channel and widening of 81 kilometres of existing drainage channel to increase the amount of freshwater flowing into the southern end of the Coorong from the South East drainage network.
  • Community foreshore restoration works at Milang and Meningie.
  • Re-establishment of the health and prevalence of the key Coorong aquatic plant Ruppia tuberosa through translocation efforts.
  • Extensive ecological monitoring programs encompassing monitoring of flora and fauna, water quality and acid sulfate soils.
  • Co-design of the CLLMM Ngarrindjeri Partnerships Project with the Ngarrindjeri Traditional Owners to increase Ngarrindjeri organisational capacity for engagement in natural resources management and support drought recovery.
  • Hindmarsh Island directly benefited through reconnecting wetlands and removing impediments to flow, resulting in increased habitat for fish breeding, improved riparian health and improved fish passage.

The Ecological Character Description for the CLLMM site is currently undergoing a comprehensive review and update. A revised Ecological Character Description and Ramsar Management Plan are currently being progressed.

The Recovery Project helped pave the way for continued investment in this wetland of international significance. The current Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin program is building on the legacy of the CLLMM Recovery Project and will continue to support the long-term management and health on the Coorong, with a focus on the South Lagoon, over the coming years.

The South Australian Government’s CLLMM Recovery Project was jointly funded by the Australian and South Australian governments.

Access a full copy of the CLLMM Recovery Project final report here