Research institute crucial for resilient river in SA

Research institute crucial for resilient river in SA

Local candidate for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie and her Centre Alliance colleagues in the Senate have called on the Federal and State Government to set up an SA Murray Research Institute. 

“The institute would focus on how to make the SA end of the river more resilient to the ebbs and flows of upstream conditions,” Rebekha said today.

“Even with a perfectly executed Murray Darling Basin Plan, which works around long-term averages, the lower end of the river will still have to deal with short-term variations in water flows and that’s something that requires specific attention.”

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The proposed SA Murray Institute would look at issues such as:

  • Real-time summaries of the ecological condition of the river to allow for the provision of advice and remedies for intermediate and extreme drought events.
  • Finding new solutions for the managing water, salinity and nutrient levels in the Coorong, Lower Lakes, and Murray Mouth in the context of real-time ebb and flow conditions.
  • New ebb and flow management enhancements for the Murray River Channel and Floodplains.
  • Monitoring and reporting socio-economic benefits for various stakeholders (agricultural, fisheries, indigenous, tourism, recreational) during ebb and flow events.

The call for the Institute is supported by Associate Professor David Paton, an ecologist and expert on the Coorong in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Assoc Prof Paton said addressing water flow variations in South Australia's end of the river was a management challenge requiring a specific approach that could only be achieved effectively with the setting up of a local expert body.

“This is about investing in young scientists and engineers to provide innovative solutions to secure an extra 20 to 30 per cent environmental gains from the environmental water that is made available,” Assoc Prof Paton said.

“The aim is to build ecological resilience during the wetter periods so that the natural systems can better cope during the drier periods.

“This is critical if we are going to manage Ramsar-listed wetlands and provide habitats for a suite of waterbird species, many of which we have international obligations to protect.” 

Rebekha says South Australia needs a research institute for its section of the Murray irrespective of the execution of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“I’m not suggesting for one moment I’m happy with the current state of affairs with the plan but whatever happens South Australia has to be smart about the water we do receive,” Rebekha said.

“The health of the river is a critical issue for South Australia, especially the electorate of Mayo which is home to the Lower Lakes. It represents the most vulnerable part of the river.

“I will lobby Government hard for the establishment of an institute should I be re-elected."

Senator Rex Patrick agreed, saying an institute would focus solely on managing ebbs and flows.

“Centre Alliance will continue its Murray Darling oversight role no matter what,” Rex said.

“The Party has been at the centre of the exposé into the failings of the plan’s implementation.

“Through field trips, the use of multiple Senate ‘orders for production of documents’ and questioning in Parliament we have been able to uncover serious claims of theft, rorting and overpayment. We will remain vigilant on the entire Murray Darling.”