Scientists to probe impacts of Murray flooding

Studies into the Murray flood will aid the management of riverine, floodplain and wetland habitats.

Studies into the Murray flood will aid the management of riverine, floodplain and wetland habitats. Photo: AAP

A series of research projects will look at how River Murray environments in South Australia are responding to the once-in-a-generation flood.

SA’s Department for Environment and Water is working with the Goyder Institute for Water Research to inform the future management of riverine, floodplain and wetland habitats.

Researchers will capture data while high flows continue through the Murray Mouth to better understand environmental responses to the flood.

“The flood has created some difficult challenges for our South Australian communities, but the flows represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to understand how such a flood event affects the river and surrounding environments,” Environment Minister Susan Close said.

“While the high flows will create many positive environmental responses, blackwater events and potential pest species may pose a significant risk to endangered and threatened species.

“Improving our understanding of ecological responses to a wider range of flow conditions will be important in how we manage the River Murray in our changing climate.”

The research will focus on four key areas including water quality, how salt is flushed from the floodplain, the risks associated with blackwater events and the impact of an abundance of carp.

Alec Rolston, from the Goyder institute, said the work would inform the state’s future management of river flows.

“Future changes in our climate will likely increase the duration and intensity of extreme flood and drought events,” Dr Rolston said.

“Understanding responses to events such as these high flows is important for improving our water management to ensure the environmental, economic, cultural and social values of our waters are maintained.”

Water levels down the Murray in SA continue to recede after reaching heights not experienced for more than 50 years.

At one stage about 4000 properties along the river, including shacks, homes and businesses, were inundated or impacted in some way.

In other responses to the flood event, more than 120 homes and businesses in Mannum, east of Adelaide,  have had wastewater services restored after their connections were temporarily isolated from the local sewer network.

SA Water disconnected wastewater services for 127 low-lying properties in December to protect the town’s wider sewer network from flood damage and to prevent wastewater overflows.


Topics: Murray River
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