A major review of the lower Murray River’s action plans has identified improvements in riverbank stability and vegetation in its upper reaches but further degradation in the lower reaches, according to Science Network WA.
The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) has developed the 2014 River Action Plan (RAP) with the Shire of Murray, Department of Water and the local community, assessing the previous 2003 RAP and setting priorities for future restoration.
The RAP forms part of the large-scale restoration project Rivers 2 Ramsar (R2R), to which the Australian Government has allocated more than $3.5 million from 2013-2017 to protect and enhance the Peel-Harvey Catchment.
Rivers 2 Ramsar project manager Thelma Crook said that they determined the lower reaches of the Murray River were impacted by high energy water movement and significant human use including boating.
“The added pressure from development and upstream land use has seen a reduction in water quality and a greater stress on both aquatic and terrestrial habitats,” Ms Crook says.
R2R project officer Jo Garvey said that as a direct result of these findings, a bank stabilization project was implemented at Jeegarnyeejip Island in the lower reaches.
This project involved installing a synthetic erosion control matting designed to withstand higher-velocity water flows along a 1km stretch.
Past attempts using different bank stabilization methods found they were not effective in the lower reaches due to its heavy usage and system dynamics compared with the calmer upper reaches.