High and increasing flows along the River Murray into South Australia have improved conditions at the Murray Mouth and reduced the need for dredging, the Office of the Water and River Murray Minister, Ian Hunter, said in its latest announcement.
One of the two dredgers removing sand from the Mouth since January 2015 will be decommissioned for approximately three months after unregulated high flows have scoured sand from the Mouth and flushed it seaward.
The remaining dredger will continue to operate between the Goolwa and Tauwitchere Channels, and a decision on the future of this dredger will be made soon.
Dredging operations have been required to maintain connectivity between the Coorong and the Southern Ocean to prevent the Mouth closing during times of low flows over the barrages.
The current high unregulated flows will enable the river to discharge salt and other nutrients out to sea, and to maintain healthy ecosystems in the Coorong.
Dredging was required during the Millennium Drought and then again from January last year as flows were not sufficient to maintain connectivity between the river and the ocean.
Water and River Murray Minister, Ian Hunter, said: “Conditions at the Mouth have been closely monitored, and thanks to the recent and continuing high flows we are able to cut down dredging operations.”
“The high flows have helped keep the Mouth open and maintain a healthy river system, which is a great result for the magnificent RAMSAR-listed Coorong and Lower Lakes environment.”
Maintaining an open Mouth is a key objective under the Murray-Daring Basin Plan, and dredging is considered the most effective method of keeping the Mouth open.