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Flows for the Future

Flows for the Future

There are now more than 420 sites in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges (EMLR) where solutions have been adopted by landholders to allow low flows to continue downstream.

What is the Flows for the Future program?

The Flows for the Future program seeks to re-establish a critical portion of natural water flow patterns in streams affected by water capture in the EMLR. This will support long-term sustainability for communities, industry and the environment.

One of the biggest causes of deteriorating catchment health is the absence of critical low flows.

Community led discussion identified solutions for this situation and agreed to share the responsibility of returning low flows to support their local catchments. The program seeks to work with landholders to implement this community decision.

Devices are installed to allow low flows of water to pass around dams and back into the downstream catchment during natural flow periods (e.g. rainfall, runoff etc.). When each landholder contributes and passes on a small proportion of their total flow, the cumulative effect on the environment is significant and helps to restore catchments, which in turn supports regional tourism and sustainable agricultural industries.

The program is voluntary and the installation of low flow solutions to all priority site landholders is offered at no cost to landholders. The program works alongside landholders to find solutions to restoring low flows with minimal impact on water use and security.

By funding the design and restoration of low flows on dams and watercourse diversions, the program supports landholders in restoring more natural flows throughout the stream systems that bring life to the EMLR.

Why we need flows for the future

Why do we need the Flows for the Future program?

We all know how valuable water is. Without it, plants, animals, the land and sustainability of primary production suffers. By looking after the health of our catchments today, we can help ensure land managers have the opportunity to farm viably into the future.

The Flows for the Future program works towards ensuring the long-term viability of catchment health in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges (EMLR).

The EMLR is a major contributor to South Australia’s economy, generating $440 million in agricultural production each year. It is a prime tourism destination and home to many farmers and rural lifestyle properties. The EMLR are the traditional lands of the Ngadjuri, Kaurna, Peramangk and Ngarrindjeri people. Freshwater is core to culture and the identity of First Nations across the Murray-Darling Basin. The freshwater systems bring life to the EMLR and inextricably links people and culture to country and all living things.

Many water catchments in the EMLR are in poor condition with some parts going without flowing water for longer periods than ever before. There are more than 8000 dams in the EMLR alone. While dams are crucial because they provide water security, their combined impact along with watercourse diversions has changed the pattern and amount of water flowing through the EMLR. Click here for a summary of the science and analysis of catchment heath.

Productive and sustainable businesses need healthy catchments. The Flows for the Future program aims to improve the health and resilience of high priority catchments, including the Angas River, Bremer River, Finniss River, Currency Creek, Tookayerta Creek, Marne River and Saunders Creek.

Flows for the Future

What area does the program include?

The program is underway in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Prescribed Water Resources Area. See map for more detail.

Based on community feedback the program is taking a strategic approach to site selection to achieve the best outcome for resources invested.

Some dam and watercourse diversions have more influence on the pattern of flow than others – these are ‘priority sites’ and are the most efficient places to pass low-flows.

Since the landscape, infrastructure and flow rates are unique at every property, there is no ‘one size fits all’ option to passing low flows. Each device is tailored to the priority dam, or watercourse diversion, in collaboration with landholders.

How can I get involved?

If your property has been identified as a priority site, a field officer from the Department for Environment and Water will contact you to discuss options available and funding.

If you’d like to get in touch please use the feedback form below or contact us.

Contact us


Phone: 8391 2109