During the next two weeks a dredging contractor will be setting-up at the Murray Mouth to undertake preparatory works prior to commencing dredging operations in the near future.
The mouth is at risk of closing due to lower than average flows in the River Murray which has allowed sand to build up.
Department of Environment Water Resource Operations manager Jarrod Eaton said the situation has deteriorated rapidly this year, and the amount of sand inside the mouth is now close to the volume present when dredging was commenced in 2002 during the Millennium Drought.
“Dredging is now necessary as South Australia will not receive enough water after Christmas to keep the mouth open,” Mr Eaton said. “In the last month around 30,000 cubic meters of sand has accumulated inside the mouth.”
“It is important that the mouth remains open to allow the exchange of water between the Coorong and the Southern Ocean which helps to keep Coorong ecosystems healthy.
“Keeping the mouth open is a key objective of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
“While Basin Plan water recovery efforts are progressing well with around 1,900 gigalitres of water recovered across the Murray-Darling Basin to date, even when the Plan is fully implemented, dredging will still to be required on occasions.”
When dredging starts there will be some changes to public access and at times there may be restrictions on passage through the mouth and along Sir Richard and Younghusband Peninsula next to the mouth. Signage will be installed at boat ramps, along the beach and in other public places to inform people of any access restrictions.
While attempts will be made to minimize disruption to boat operators, at certain times there may be no public access to the Goolwa and/or Tauwitchere Channels and along the beach.
Dredging operations will continue to at least the end of June 2015 and regular updates will be provided throughout 2015.