Dredging operations are beginning today at the Murray Mouth in order to maintain connectivity between the river and the Southern Ocean.
A dredging contractor has been engaged to undertake the work and during the past two weeks has been mobilizing in preparation for dredging.
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Water Resource Operations manager Jarrod Eaton said the mouth has been at risk of closing due to lower than average flows in the River Murray and the situation has deteriorated rapidly in the past 12 months.
“Flows within the River Murray are currently insufficient to provide for scouring flows at the mouth and the rainfall outlook for the next three months indicates dry conditions are likely to continue, which reinforces the need to dredge,” Mr Eaton said.
“It’s 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. Dredging was required for eight years during the Millennium Drought to keep the mouth open,” Mr Eaton added.
During dredging operations there will be some changes to public access to the mouth, and at times there may be restrictions on passage past and through the mouth and along Sir Richard and Younghusband Peninsula next to the mouth.
The northern tip of Younghusband Peninsula in the Coorong National Park will also be closed. Signage has been installed at boat ramps, along the beach, and in other public places to inform people of any changes to access.
“We are attempting to minimize disruption to boat operators, but at times there is likely to be restricted access to the Goolwa and/or Tauwitchere Channels and along the beach. We ask that boat operators and other people in the area obey all signage and stay away from exclusions zones around dredging operations in the interests of their own safety,” Mr Eaton said.
Dredging will be carried out until at least the end of June 2015.